Known for its peppery bite, arugula (or rocket, as it's called in England) makes for a great salad when thoughtfully paired with ingredients that play well with its spicy boldness. Equally pronounced flavor archetypes such as tart, sweet, salty, and pungent work best; these flavor categories are where arugula meets its match, complementing or subduing its somewhat bitter notes. The great thing is that because of its intensity you never have to worry about these flavors overwhelming arugula. This is one leafy green that can stand up to the competition when pitted against other strong flavors, making arugula an extremely versatile choice — either on its own or in tandem with other greens — and leaving lots of room for exploration.
As part of its adaptability, an arugula salad can span a range from just a few ingredients to hosting a whole party of flavors. It's all about finding the right balance. Kept simple, you can make a delicious arugula side salad using a basic olive oil and lemon juice dressing with some shredded or grated Parmesan on top. In this scenario, it's the acid of the citrus and the saltiness of the cheese that counterbalance the arugula, allowing just enough flavor to cut through and be tasty but not overwhelming. Add some grilled-to-perfection steak to it — something that other greens, such as those found in a spring mix, could not withstand — and you've turned your side salad into a full meal.
Choosing Ingredients For Your Arugula Salad
Arugula's bold flavor opens the door to incorporating some of your other favorite powerfully flavored ingredients that you may not get to use as often, such as pungent and tangy cheeses. Think blue cheese, goat cheese, and feta.
Try chunks of sharp, sweet, and acidic citrus fruits such as orange or grapefruit segments. Other fruits such as blueberries, sliced apple or pear, or even the strawberries in this strawberry arugula salad, work great too, especially when paired with cheeses or nuts; they add a juicy sweetness and palate-cleansing acidity to any protein you may add.
Feeling salty? Try pairing arugula with olives, thinly sliced sardines, or prosciutto, and tossing in zesty pickled onions, beets, or radishes (which can all lend brightness both in flavor and color). Maybe toss in some roasted red peppers or sun-dried tomatoes for a touch of sweetness to knock the bitter chip off arugula's shoulder. Or, drizzle on some treacly yet tart balsamic vinegar to dress up your salad in the most delightful of ways.
As toppers, dried fruit such as raisins or cranberries, nuts such as walnuts and pine nuts, and seeds such as pumpkin and sunflower all lend a bit of richness to arugula's peppered tongue. With bold flavors like this on your plate, you can't go wrong; just play around with the combos until you find the flavors that light your tastebuds afire.
Read the original article on Tasting Table.