Arugula (Eruca sativa) is a leafy green member of the cabbage or Brassica family originally from the Mediterranean region. It is also called rocket or roquette, and rulula cucola in Europe, or gharghir in the Middle East. It has a strong, spicy, peppery flavor. Arugula was first enjoyed by the ancient Romans and Egyptians.
The shape of the arugula leaf can vary slightly with variety. Usually, the skinnier the leaf, the more sharp and astringent the flavor may be. The flavor of arugula ranges to tones of black pepper, to spice, to the heat of mustard powder, and may have a nutty undertone.
To decrease the amount of pungency of arugula, mix it with milder greens such as spinach. Typically, when it is heated or cooked, the flavor intensifies.
Arugula can be eaten raw, in a salad, or used on a sandwich. Baby arugula or micro-arugula (just sprouted) can be used as garnishes. It can slightly wilted when tossed with things such as hot pasta, or thrown on a hot pizza, or have hot meat added. Avoid fully cooking arugula because sometimes there is the tendency to become very bitter. Arugula is commonly used to make pesto in Italy.