An arugula substitute can be tricky since it has a unique flavor profile. But, depending on your recipe, you might notice finding a suitable alternative to be easier than you think.
What Is Arugula?
Arugula, also known as rocket, is a cruciferous leafy green vegetable that is often used as an herb. Not only is arugula closely related to cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower, but it also has a lot of health benefits. Interestingly, arugula is more often used fresh than dried.
What Does Arugula Taste Like?
Arugula has a tart, bitter, and distinctly peppery taste when used fresh. Depending on the maturity of the leaves used, it might be bitter. Baby arugula leaves or even arugula microgreens are described as having a mild, tart taste.
Common Uses for Arugula
- Salads – arugula is often added fresh into salads to give a peppery and tart flavor to the salad.
- Sandwiches and pizza – arugula pairs well with vegetables and meat in sandwiches and on pizzas.
- Stir-fries – arugula can be sauteed and added to stir fries to give a fresh and tart flavor to the dish.
- Pesto – arugula pesto is one of the lesser-known pesto options, but it works well when added to sauces or used as a dressing for fresh or roasted vegetables.
8 Best Arugula Substitute Options
Spinach has an earthy taste when cooked or used raw, which makes for a more palatable replacement for arugula. Use baby spinach for salads as the taste is milder than mature spinach. Lively Table has an easy spinach salad recipe.
If you need a milder leafy green that looks similar to arugula, watercress should be your go-to. It has a fresh and bright flavor profile that will not overwhelm your dish. Masterclass explains how to use watercress in your dishes.
Kale has its own unique bitter taste, which is great if you do enjoy the bitterness of the arugula. It can withstand a lot of heat, making it ideal for adding to stir-fries. Like arugula, kale has a lot of health benefits, according to Souper Sage.
Purslane is regarded as a superfood and has a lot of health benefits, according to Almanac. It has a plump leaf that is juicier than that of arugula but has a very close flavor and can be used cooked or raw.
Mache has a slightly nutty and sweet flavor profile and looks a lot like spinach. If you don’t want a bitter flavor, mache is a good alternative to arugula, and it can be used cooked or raw in a variety of recipes. Gardening Know How teaches you how to use this tasty green vegetable.
Endive makes a good arugula substitute with its sturdy leaves and slightly bitter taste which is ideal to use in recipes where you don’t want easily wilted leaves, like salads. A Couple Cooks tells you more about this leafy green vegetable and has some recipes to try.
7. Dried Arugula
Whilst it is less common to find dried arugula, it makes for a great ingredient to sprinkle into soups, stews, and on top of pizzas, if you don’t want wilted leaves. The Kitchen Whisperer teaches you to make your own so you can have a shelf-stable alternative year-round.
8. Arugula Pesto
If you need to add some peppery flavors to your pasta dish, adding arugula pesto is your secret weapon. It adds a fresh flavor and pairs well with parmesan or other cheeses. Use this on pasta, pizza, or in dressings. Lively Table has an arugula and avocado pesto recipe to wow your guests.
Tips for Arugula Substitution
- Taste – if you aren’t a fan of the peppery taste of arugula, choose a milder green vegetable to replace it in salads or stir-fries.
- Flavor – if you prefer the taste of arugula, use a similar tasting alternative or products made from arugula, like arugula pesto or dried arugula.
- Wilting – when most green veggies are exposed to heat, they wilt quickly. So if that is something that is undesirable to you, choose an ingredient that won’t wilt as quickly as arugula or try using pesto instead.
- Color – if you want to use arugula to add some greens to your dish or diet, go for an alternative that is also green or has similar health benefits.