healthy eating for healthy aging

Spice up your life with garden fresh arugula

Spice up your life with garden fresh arugula

I can’t let the summer gardening season go by without talking about my favorite green: arugula. I grow it every year. Picking fresh arugula and making salad is one of my favorite rewards for gardening.

The arugula you buy in the supermarket is most likely baby arugula, small tender leaves, almost lacking in flavor. The more mature fresh-from-the-garden variety can be spicy, which may be too much for everyone’s taste, but I prefer it.

Nutritionally speaking

Arugula has the usual nutrient profile of a dark green leafy vegetable: minerals like potassium and magnesium, B vitamins, folate, vitamin A, fiber, lutein/zeaxanthin, and vitamin K, wrapped up in a very low calorie package.

Using Arugula

The main reason to pick arugula over other dark leafy greens like spinach or kale isn’t nutritient content; it’s the flavor. No other greens taste quite like mature arugula. Add some to a green salad, where the zingy flavor complements the mild lettuce. It’s a very nice additioin to grain or pasta salads, and of course lots of people put it on pizza. You can also make arugula pesto, which would concentrate the flavor. 

Most uses of arugula do not involve cooking.  It would be like cooking lettuce.  Here are some ideas:

  • Scatter leaves on a simple cheese pizza just before it comes out of the oven.
  • Add to sandwiches or wraps.  Arugula goes well with turkey, chicken, roast beef and cheese. 
  • Toss with just cooked pasta, along with grated cheese, cherry tomatoes, lemon juice and herbs, for a non-marinara pasta dish
  • Make a meal salad with chopped tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, arugula and olive oil vinaigrette
  • Fold arugula into a cheese omelet
  • For the bold: make a 100% arugula salad, garnished with bacon, blue cheese and vinaigrette.

I like to make grain salads in summer and use greens from the garden to complement the mild flavor of the grain.  Farro is one of my favorite grains for making summer salads. It cooks up chewy, holds its shape and doesn’t go mushy. Plus it has a delightful grainy flavor. This entree salad is easy to prepare once you’ve cooked the farro.   A simple platter of sliced fresh tomatoes and cucumbers complements the farro salad nicely.  Or serve grilled summer vegetables like zucchini, onions, peppers or eggplant.  

Farro Summer Salad

July 4, 2023
: 4
: 2 hr
: 1 hr
: 2 hr
: moderate

Cooking time for the farro will vary depending on whether you use a pressure cooker or stove top. Check instructions on the package for cooking methods.


  • 1 cup raw farro
  • 2/3 cup toasted walnuts
  • 3 TB olive oil
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan, more to taste
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano, or 2 TB minced fresh oregano
  • 1/4 cup minced red onion
  • 2 cups fresh arugula leaves, torn into pieces
  • juice of 1/2 lemon, or to taste
  • salt to taste, black pepper
  • Step 1 Cook the farro according to package instructions. Do not over cook. Grains should be plump and slightly chewy.
  • Step 2 Toast walnuts in a 350º oven for 8-10 minutes. Remove promptly to avoid burning. Allow to cook, then chop roughly into large pieces.
  • Step 3 Once the farro is cooked, transfer to a mixing bowl and fluff with a fork. Allow to cool to room temperature.
  • Step 4 Mix in the olive oil, Parmesan, lemon juice, onion, walnuts and oregano. Stir to combine and taste for salt and lemon. Add salt and black pepper to taste.
  • Step 5 Refrigerate until serving time. Stir in the arugula leaves.
  • Step 6 Serve with additional Parmesan on the side.