When In Rome: Our Favorite Italian Arugula Dishes

“Beauty in simplicity.” This unofficial motto of Italian cooking is best exemplified in the country’s techniques and ingredients. Sophisticated Italian dishes are built using the most flavorful, fresh ingredients and pairing them with simple techniques that allow the inherent quality of the food to shine. Unsurprisingly, arugula has therefore endured in Italian cuisine for centuries. While the versatile, complex green can be found on all sorts of menus, we believe these dishes best represent the spirit of Italian cuisine.

Pasta con Rucola

When you want your pasta to be light and tangy, work with the friendly combination of lemon juice and arugula. Known as “rucola” throughout Italy, arugula has natural nutty, peppery flavors that pair well with the citrusy brightness of fresh lemon juice. Though you can technically substitute in any type of pasta for this dish, we like keeping it simple with some fresh spaghetti.

Arugula Pizza

Americans love pizza. So much so in fact, that it’s the most popular Italian dish in the country by a long shot. With so many different takes on the dish, it can be hard to stand out. Turn some heads by using the traditional combination of arugula and prosciutto. From presentation to flavor, it’s a simple, rewarding experience that your customers will surely enjoy.

Arugula Pesto

Step aside, basil. Craft a mouth-watering pesto alternative by substituting arugula into your standard pesto recipe. Its sharpness works well with parmesan cheese and garlic, creating a nutty, powerful take on pesto. Don’t be afraid to go wild with this one; it goes well with any traditional pesto dish.

Salad con Rucola

Though the history of the modern “salad” may be a little unclear, Romans have been eating mixed greens with dressings for thousands of years. As the country’s influence on the dish is longstanding, there are innumerable takes on arugula salad. Dressing with a citrus vinaigrette and a sharp cheese is the most traditional move, but arugula salad is open to extreme customization.

  • Pro Tip: Check out “Dressing Up” for an in-depth take on arugula salads!

Italian Wedding Soup with arugula

Potentially the best entry point to the rich history of Italian soups, Italian wedding soup hits the sweet spot between comfort and authenticity. Traditionally, the soup uses endive or escarole, but you can substitute in different greens since they’re meant to compliment the overall dish rather than take a starring role. Arugula’s a great bet, as its peppery qualities help round out the overall flavor profile and don’t spoil when cooked in the broth.

  • Pro Tip: Boiling arugula diminishes its green hue, so consider blanching if you want to keep the bright color intact.