While warmer temperatures are typically associated with hydrating fruits like watermelon, one overlooked summer ingredient is arugula. This leafy green known for its fresh, tart, bitter, and peppery flavor, originated in the Mediterranean and has a unique nickname: garden rocket.

For those looking to lose weight and improve bone health, one cup of arugula has only five calories and contains eight times more calcium than iceberg lettuce. It is also an excellent source of potassium, Vitamin K, Vitamin A and Vitamin C.

The following arugula recipes are inspired by summer and include vegan variations. Enjoy!

Mint Arugula Pesto

Photography by Caron Shahrestani

Pulse all ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth. Serve as a dip with bread, crackers or sliced veggies, as a spread for pizza and sandwiches, and as a drizzle to add zing to salads or side dishes.

• 5 cups loosely packed arugula
• 2 tablespoons pine nuts
• 1/2 cup fresh mint
• 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese (or vegan cheese)
• 2 garlic cloves
• 1 teaspoon lemon zest
• 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
• 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
• 2 tablespoons warm water

Rainbow Arugula Salad

Photography by Caron Shahrestani

Toss this colorful assortment of veggies in a big bowl and taste the rainbow! Makes 2 to 4 servings.

• 2 cups of arugula
• 2 cups of baby spinach
• Handful of minced mint leaves
• 1 spiralized carrot
• 1 chopped tomato
• 1 peeled and sliced watermelon radish
• 1 skinned, boiled and sliced beet
• 1/2 of a red onion, thinly sliced
• 1/2 of a cucumber, chopped
• Juice of one lemon
• 2 tablespoons of olive oil
• Salt and pepper to taste

Cheesy Arugula Flatbread

Photography by Caron Shahrestani

This is a quick appetizer or mid-afternoon snack. Stack ingredients on bread slices like you would a pizza and then heat in oven on the broiler setting for five minutes or until cheese melts. Arugula and basil will brown and wilt, so experiment with adding them at the last minute of baking (after the cheese starts to melt).

• Afghani bread, pita or sliced sourdough
• Handful of arugula
• Handful of chopped basil
• 1/2 of a tomato, sliced
• 1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella (or vegan cheese)

Tip: Drizzle some of your fresh Mint Arugula Pesto on top for a saucy zest!

By Caron Shahrestani

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