Arugula, also known as rocket, roquette and rucola, is a leafy green from the brassica family. It is rich in Vitamin A, C, K, folate, calcium, magnesium and potassium, a source of fibre and the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin. The consumption of leafy greens is linked to a reduced risk of type II diabetes, heart disease and several types of cancer. Eating 2 cups of leafy greens is also thought to help keep your mind sharp as you age. 1 cup of raw arugula contains only 5 calories.
Arugula has a peppery taste and bright green leaves. Avoid leaves that are yellowing, bruised or creased, wilted or moist. Baby arugula is commonly found in grocery stores prewashed in plastic recyclable containers. In the summer bunches of arugula can be found at farm markets and on store shelves. The small, young, oval shaped leaves tend to be less spicy than the large, more ridged mature leaves.
If buying bunches of arugula or harvesting your own, be sure to rinse off sand and dirt residue well by filling a large bowl or clean sink with cold water and gently rubbing any grit off the leaves. Lift the leaves out of the water and place on a dry paper towel. Roll up with paper towel loosely and place into a zip lock plastic bag for storage in the crisper. If purchasing pre-washed arugula in a container, store it in its’ original container. Arugula is highly perishable, try to use freshly washed arugula within 3-4 days.
It’s easy to grow your own arugula from seed. Simply sow the seeds in a sunny location in succession plantings every 20 days. Harvest the small leaves and the plant will continue to grow more. Use the flowers in salads and as garnish on soups. Allow one plant to go to seed and harvest the pods for reseeding.
Use arugula raw in salads, smoothies, sandwiches and on pizza
Cooked arugula is delicious in omelets, pasta sauce or made into pesto with olive oil, salt and walnuts.
Try making an arugula salad with thinly sliced fennel bulb and parmesan shavings using a vegetable peeler. Drizzle with good olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.