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Italian Arugula (Rocket) Mushroom Lemon Parmesan Salad

Penelope lived in Tuscany among the olive groves and farms for years, learning from local people about their culture, land, and food.


Arugula Mushroom Parmesan Salad

Italian Arugula (Rocket, Rucola, Rughetta) Salad

My Italian recipe is for a simple, elegant salad made with bright green arugula, (or rocket, rucola or rughetta), white Champignon mushrooms and creamy colored Parmesan cheese, dressed with extra virgin olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon and a pinch of salt. It's a particular combination of strong tastes and smart colors yet it is versatile - and lends itself to more than a few tasty dishes through most of the year:

  • Salad brunch-type meal, particularly in early summer when the arugula plants begin to grow
  • Side salad dish for hot or cold roasts in Fall
  • Stuffing for inside a wrap or 'Piadina' (unleavened flat bread')
  • Pizza topping ideas (without the lemon!)

Facts about the Arugula Plant

ERUCA VESICARIA SATVIA comes from the mustard family, and is related to radishes and watercress, hence its bitter taste.

It grows wild in much the same way wild asparagus, nettles and chicory grow wild and wasn't cultivated until the 20th century.

Arugula, or, rocket, roquette, rucola or rughetta became a gourmet food after 1980's when it was introduced into markets in the UK and USA.

It is a native Mediterranean plant. The ancient Romans mixed the seeds with olive oil and considered it an aphrodisiac.

Italians have a Seasonal Culinary Calender

What makes Italian cooking delicious is that at its core it is purely simple. Local specialties are served freshly, in season - when the produce is at its best; when the vitamins and minerals and taste fizzle with newness, when they are their most bounteous.

As ripened fruits, salads and vegetables are picked and sold in the markets, so the people of Italy fuss about how they should best be eaten - gradually developing great and famous meals, every season, every year - through centuries.

The dish (or the cheese, conserve, dried food etc.) that an Italian housewife made last August or November, say, will be made again in the same way this August or November, because produce ripens then. By now, they have their recipes down.

We bottle tomatoes and make pesto in August. We make sausages and new wine and olive oil in November. Over Easter the baker shops sell fruit and spice loaves made with dried summer figs - and so on. Every month has a calender of culinary jobs to do, so we're on top of the freshest foods (cooked just the way Nonna made them).

Arugula or Rughetta is Delicious in Salads in Summer and Fall

There are many recipes for arugula, but here in Tuscany, it's used mostly in our salads, as a side salad to roast meats, in a piadena (unleavened flat bread), or as a pizza topping. Here we call it rughetta. Older women call it erbetta, which means 'wild grass' - you can't fool them:

  • Arugula grows easily from spring through the summer in Italy (and again in the fall); the taste of its leaves becoming more peppery as the sun shines on them. It's a strongly contrasting salad growing through the season of sweeter-tasting vegetables (such as tomatoes, sweet peppers, courgette, salads, egg plant). Arugula is a 'tart' break for discerning taste buds.
  • Woodsy, white Champignon mushrooms (grown in local greenhouses) have a delicate earthiness and rubbery consistency that sisters-up to the best side of arugula.
  • Parmesan's deep nutty flavor (if it is the real Parmigiano Reggiano) is sweet and rich - and the cream of it on the palette combines the other flavors as a good cheese always does!
  • A juicy soft squeezed lemon off the tree (or from the supermarket) cuts the cream, brings the taste back to sharp and peppery.
  • Extra virgin olive oil will roll it all round your mouth and bring out all the flovors as well as impart it's own earth-like ooze taste.
  • Salt heightens all the flavors and helps your digestion.

If arugula was a musical instrument, it's the castanets. It's got a 'crack, crack' sound to be reckoned with in the drowsy, cello-like abundance of heavy, laden summer. If it was in a desert, it would be the cardamom, because you really have to deal with that pungent kick. If it was in a crowd of people, it would be the kid on his bike you have to move out of the way for.

In a salad, it's a part of a threesome, but it's the one with the stiletto heels.

In Italy it is given an intruders welcome - since the older generation know it's really only 'erbetta'. They like it as a newcomer these days. Newer restaurants might serve it proudly. The young love it. It is very, very cool.

And today no decent market garden is without it.

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Cook Time

Prep timeReady inYields

10 min

10 min

Serves 2 people

Ingredients arugula, Champignon mushrooms, Parmesan cheese, lemon and olive oil

Ingredients arugula, Champignon mushrooms, Parmesan cheese, lemon and olive oil


  • 125 g arugula, (young leaves)
  • 140 g Champignon mushrooms, finely sliced
  • 150 g Parmesan Reggiano, shredded
  • 1 tsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • pinch salt


  1. Wash and spin dry tender green leaves of arugula. Set aside.
  2. Wipe fresh Champignon mushrooms with a damp cloth and finely slice. Set aside.
  3. Flake the cheese off the Parmesan with a vegetable peeler. Set aside.
  4. Squeeze a ripe lemon. Set aside the juice.
  5. In a pretty salad bowl or serving dish assemble: the arugula, top over with mushrooms and top over again with Parmesan cheese flakes.
  6. Pour over the extra virgin olive oil and mix the salad deftly with your hands (to keep salad leaves crisp).
  7. Pour lemon juice and add salt to taste. Lightly toss.
  8. Serve!
Arugula, shaved Parmesan and finely sliced Champignon mushrooms

Arugula, shaved Parmesan and finely sliced Champignon mushrooms

Vitamins and Minerals


Vitamin or Mineral






2 gr




70 gr




70 gr




10 gr




10 gr

Olive Oil



216 gr

Lemon Juice



244 gr

Lemon Juice



244 gr

Lemon Juice



244 gr

Pizza Topping Ideas

You will need 200 grams of mozzarella.

The salad is great on white pizza or as a filling for a piadena.

Just don't add the lemon juice.

For Pizza topping, simply:

  • Add 200 grams of chopped mozzarella to the pizza bread
  • Heat in a 180° oven for 8 minutes (or not!)
  • Top with Arugula, Mushroom and Parmesan Salad

To fill a Piadena

  • Heat your 'piadena' (flat bread) in a griddle on top of the cooker (or for a few minutes in a 180° oven)
  • Add chopped mozzarella,
  • Before rolling it up - the Salad
  • Roll and stick a toothpick in to keep it together.

Buon Appetito!

© 2012 Penelope Hart


Penelope Hart (author) from Rome, Italy on June 24, 2014:

Buon appetito. When arugula is in season, it's an amazing food! Totally exciting and perfect with Parmesan and lemon.

Many thanks for dropping by! Appreciated.

Marisa Hammond Olivares from Texas on June 24, 2014:

Hi GoodLady! I have plenty of spinach and baby greens in my fridge. I think I'll get just plain arugula next time, this salad recipe looks delicious and refreshing. I love the parmesan shavings. Goodness, my mouth is watering. I'm pinning, voting up and tweeting.

Penelope Hart (author) from Rome, Italy on October 30, 2012:

Melovy! It's a great taste break from wintry foods so I do hope you like it. Thank you so much for your comments.

Penelope Hart (author) from Rome, Italy on October 30, 2012:

Glad you love this one. It's a kicking salad! Thanks so much for your comments, which I do so appreciate.

Yvonne Spence from UK on October 30, 2012:

I love rocket. Love, love, love it in fact! This looks really tasty with the shavings of parmesan. I can almost taste it in my mind already. Will have to have soon! Thanks for the recipe - and for the information. I've often wondered why sometimes rocket is more peppery than others, and now I know!

Judi Brown from UK on October 30, 2012:

Love your recipes, not only splendid photos, but great descriptive writing too - the castanets of the salad world!

Penelope Hart (author) from Rome, Italy on June 16, 2012:

Hope you come and visit when you come over chrissie and thanks so much for comments.

chrissieklinger from Pennsylvania on June 16, 2012:

I so need to live in Italy, in the meantime I will make this yummy dish and dream! Such a wonderful hub, I love all the choices you gave for these few simple ingredients.

Penelope Hart (author) from Rome, Italy on June 16, 2012:

Nice ragged! Hope you try the salad because it's really good. Thanks so much great commenting.

Bev G from Wales, UK on June 16, 2012:

You are a recipe-Hubmaker extraordinaire! Superb - a viusal feast. I bet the salad is gorgeous too!

Penelope Hart (author) from Rome, Italy on June 14, 2012:

toomuchmint. Really hope you enjoy your 'wriggle' salad and thanks for comment!

twisntimes2, hi! nice to hear from you and thanks x

Karen Lackey from Ohio on June 14, 2012:

A fun read and a great recipe. Well done!

toomuchmint on June 14, 2012:

This is such a great recipe. I grow wriggle, but never know what to do with it. This salad is perfect. Thanks!

Penelope Hart (author) from Rome, Italy on June 14, 2012:

Susan. I do appreciate your ratings and pinning and for sharing! Thanks!

hecate-horus. Thanks for your voting -up. So great of you

Laura. Hi. Parmesan is wonderful on this salad, so really hope you enjoy it. Thanks for vote!

Claudia Tello, Many thanks for appreciative comments.

Claudia Tello from Mexico on June 14, 2012:

I love the idea of topping a pizza with this salad. An excellent way to incorporate some raw nutritious goodness into such a meal. I do top my pizzas with arugula all the time.

This Hub was much more than I expected, great work, congratulations.

LauraGSpeaks from Raleigh, NC on June 14, 2012:

I think the Parmesan Reggiano would be my favorite part of the salad. I love cheese--its the perfect naughty compliment to a healthy salad! Voted up.

hecate-horus from Rowland Woods on June 14, 2012:

Looks and sounds great! Thanks for sharing! Voted up.

Susan Zutautas from Ontario, Canada on June 14, 2012:

I usually add arugula to salads as I really like the taste of it. I've never thought of making an entire salad out of it. This looks wonderful and I'll try your recipe soon.

Rated, pinned, and shared.

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