Simply Fresh by Julie Wern

Featured Item—Arugula

I was asked to focus on arugula this week…one of my very favorite greens.  I have reprinted much of last year’s post below, as it was a pretty thorough discussion of the topic.  However, I added three new recipes.
Arugula, or “rocket”, is a salad green that is very popular in Italy and the Mediterranean. It is often served raw, although it is sometimes cooked (or barely wilted) and is even used sparingly as an herb. It has a distinctive “peppery” flavor that becomes more intense the larger and older the leaves.
Arugula is truly a nutritional powerhouse. Super low in calories, it nevertheless packs a nutritional punch with high levels of vitamins, minerals, and phyto-nutrients. It is particularly high in vitamins A, C, and K, as well as folate, calcium and beta-carotene. Because of the abundance of nutrients, it seems a no-brainer to include arugula in your weekly meal planning, even in places you might not expect to use it. I recently tried just-wilted arugula in a saute with zucchini and found it delicious (see below for recipe)…. Like I said, it’s a “no brainer”.
However, I also like the “kick” of a pure arugula salad. While I happen to adore the slightly bitter, peppery taste of arugula alone, many like to “cut” their greens with some sweet lettuce varieties, which is perfectly fine. However you like to do it, try making arugula salads with some of the following delicious combinations:
  • -Roasted Beet and Goat Cheese with a Citrus Vinaigrette
  • -Lemon and Fresh Fennel with Lemon Vinaigrette
  • -Tomato and Mozzarella with Balsamic Vinaigrette
  • -Strawberry and Hazelnut with Hazelnut or Poppy seed Vinaigrette
Because arugula is strongly flavored, it can stand up to almost any kind of vinaigrette. For example, dressings with strong herbs, mustard, anchovy, capers, olives, and stronger vinegars (like balsamic) do well with this salad green.
Arugula is wonderful not only as the star green in a salad, but it also adds texture, color and nutrition to grain and/or potato salads. For example, try substituting arugula for parsley in tabouli or add chopped arugula to your favorite potato salad.
One often-overlooked way to use arugula is in soups/stews. Added at the last minute, arugula offers a flavorful and interesting addition to your everyday meals. It is also wonderful on sandwiches.  See below for a unique tuna salad sandwich idea.
In addition to soups/stews and sandwiches, arugula is also great on pizzas. Place atop pizza just as it comes out of the oven so that is wilts before drying out. One combination we particularly like in our family is chopped ham, marinara sauce, Italian blend cheese, and arugula (YUM!!). However, again, the possible combinations are endless.  See below for a really special Lamb and Arugula Flatbread recipe.
I can’t talk about arugula without mentioning eggs. Arugula truly shines in frittatas, omelets, and stratas, perhaps because it really has a chance to stand out against the mild flavor of the egg. However, the less arugula is cooked the better…it does best when it is just barely wilted down.
Of course, I also can’t forget to mention the combination of arugula and pasta. Typically arugula is tossed with hot pasta and sauce just before serving, allowing the leaves to just barely wilt. Again, the potential combinations are endless. My favorite way to have arugula with pasta is to make an arugula pesto and toss it with hot pasta and a bit of pasta cooking liquid. Make arugula pesto as you would your favorite basil pesto. It is truly fantastic! Another one of our favorite ways to use arugula in pasta is Barefoot Contessa’s Lemon Fusilli Pasta Recipe
Choose arugula that is brightly colored and crisp. Avoid yellowed, wilted, or slimy greens. Loosely wrap unwashed arugula in plastic and place in the refrigerator. Store for about 3-5 days. Wash well, as arugula leaves can tend to harbor lots of sand.
This flatbread is super tasty.  If you don’t want to take the time to make the dough, simply use a prepared pizza dough.  The list of ingredients might look daunting, but it is mostly spices.  Also, you can make the lamb mixture and the tahini drizzle ahead of time, making the last minute prep much easier.

Lamb & Arugula Flatbreads w/ Tahini Drizzle  makes 2 flatbreads

– For Lamb mixture:
– 1-pound ground lamb
– 1 small onion, minced
– 2 cloves garlic, minced
– 3 tablespoons tomato paste
– 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
– 3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
– 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
– 1/2 teaspoon paprika
– 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
– 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
– 3 tablespoons chicken broth
– For Tahini Drizzle:
– 1/2 cup non-fat Greek yogurt
– 3 tablespoons tahini
– 1 clove garlic, crushed
– 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
– 4-5 tablespoons hot water
– salt to taste
– For Flatbread:
– 1 1/4 ounce package active dry yeast
– 1 teaspoon sugar
– 1 cup warm water, (110-115 degrees)

– 2 1/2 – 3 cups all-purpose flour

– 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
– 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
– 3 large handfuls fresh arugula
1. Cook lamb in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, breaking up with a spoon as you cook, until meat is browned.  Drain off most of fat.  Return meat with a little fat to heat.  Reduce heat to medium-low.  Add onions and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft, about 5-8 minutes.  Add spices and tomato paste.  Cook, stirring continuously, until tomato paste has darkened, about 2-3 minutes.  Add broth and stir well.  Remove from heat and cool. (Can be made 1-2 days ahead.  Refrigerate until ready to cook flatbreads)
2. Meanwhile, make tahini drizzle.  Mix yogurt, tahini, garlic, lemon juice, and hot water until you have a good consistency.  Add more water as necessary.  Season to taste with salt.  Refrigerate until ready to use (Can be made 1-2 days ahead).
3. About 2 hours before you are ready to bake the flatbreads, stir yeast and sugar into warm water until dissolved.  Let stand for 5 minutes or until foamy.  Mix together flour and salt in a large bowl.  Add yeast mixture and 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Mix well.  Mixture will likely be quite moist…add up to 1/2 cup more flour if it is too sticky.  Knead on a floured surface for 5 minutes (alternatively, mix in a stand mixer, then using the dough hook, knead on medium-low for about 7 minutes).  Place dough in a large oiled bowl and turn to coat.  Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours (when you poke the dough with a finger, it should leave an indentation).
4. Preheat oven to 500.  Punch down dough and divide into two pieces.  If you have pizza pans with holes in them, spread out dough into each pan using your fingertips until it is a thin as it can get without breaking.  If using a pizza stone you will likely need to do one flatbread at a time–sprinkle some cornmeal on your pizza paddle (or a piece of parchment), then spread out dough.  Brush top of dough with 1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil.  Place pans in oven (or transfer to pizza stone).  Cook until crust is lightly golden, about 6 minutes.  Remove pans (or if using pizza stone, transfer to work surface).  Cover each hot crust with half of meat mixture.  Return to oven and bake for about 3 minutes, just until meat is heated through.
5. Remove hot flatbreads from oven.  Quickly top each with half of the arugula.  Using a small whisk or a spoon, generously drizzle tahini sauce on each flatbread.  Cut and serve immediately.  Serve with extra tahini sauce on side.
You can easily substitute summer squash for the zucchini in this recipe.  You can even just double or triple the arugula and saute that on its own.

Sautéed Zucchini and Arugula               Serves 4

– 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
– 1 large zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced
– 2 cloves garlic, minced
– 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
– 4 cups arugula
– 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
Heat a large sauté pan with olive oil over medium-low heat until hot.  Add zucchini, garlic, red pepper flakes, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.  Saute, stirring frequently, until zucchini just starts to get tender, about 6-8 minutes.  Add arugula and 1/4 teaspoon salt and stir well.  Cover and cook, stirring once or twice, until arugula is tender, about 2-3 minutes.  Serve.
My good friend, Jeanne, and I developed this recipe together after tasting a fantastic sandwich like it on a very memorable wine tasting trip.  If you like tangy, salty flavors, you will LOVE this sandwich.

Tuna Nicoise Sandwich                   Serves 4

– 2 cans white albacore tuna in water, drained
– 1/3 – 1/2 cup prepared black olive tapenade, to taste
– 1 tablespoon capers, minced
– 1/2 teaspoon anchovy paste
– 1 – 2  tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, to taste
-1/4 cup diced seeded tomato
– 1/4 sweet red onion, very thinly sliced
– 3 pickled hard-boiled eggs, (or regular hard boiled eggs) sliced
– 3 handfuls arugula
– 1 – 1 1/4 cups Salt & Vinegar or Dill Pickle flavored potato chips
– 1/2 loaf Italian or Ciabatta bread
1. Slice bread in half lengthwise.  Carefully hollow out much of the bread of both the top and the bottom halves, leaving a small amount behind for structure.  Reserve bread pieces for another use (like making breadcrumbs).  Set aside hollowed out halves.
2. In a medium bowl, mix tuna with tapenade, capers, anchovy paste, tomatoes, and olive oil.  Taste and adjust tapenade and olive oil to taste and moisture preference.  Spread tuna mixture on bottom half of hollowed out bread.  Top with onion slices, then egg slices, and finally arugula.  Carefully lay chips out on top of arugula.  Place bread top on sandwich and press down lightly to crush chips and help them adhere.  Slice sandwich into 4 slices.  Serve immediately.

Pickled Hard Boiled Eggs                           makes ½ dz

– 6 eggs, hard boiled and cooled immediately in very cold water; peeled
– 1 cup cider vinegar
– 1/2 cup water
– 2 cloves garlic, crushed
– 3/4 tablespoon Pickling Spice
– 2 tablespoons sugar
– 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1. Heat vinegar, water, garlic, spices, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan until sugar and salt are dissolved and mixture just begins to boil.  Remove from heat.  Allow to cool.
2. Place peeled, cooled eggs in a quart jar.  Pour cooled pickling brine over eggs and refrigerate for at least 2 days before serving.  Use within 3 weeks