Also Known as
Rocket, Roquette, Eruca, Rucola, Rocket salad, Roka, Garden Rocket, Rugula, Rocket greens
It is a Mediterranean plant, with a pungent smell and taste, whose young leaves are used for flavouring salads or are eaten as a salad. It is related to both watercress and radish. During Roman era, arugula was grown for its leaves and seeds. The seeds could be used for flavouring oils and as a ingredient in aphrodisiac concoctions..They should be gathered before flowering, when smooth and hairless, as later the taste becomes very mustardy. It has a rich, peppery taste, and has an exceptionally strong flavour. In addition to the leaves, the flowers, young seed pods and mature seeds are all edible.
How to Select
Wash and pat dry the arugula leaves and chop finely as desired - thickly or thinly.
In the ground, the plant resembles a loose lettuce with long, slender leaves. Wild arugula has smaller, spicier leaves than the cultivated variety. Younger leaves are tender and have a milder taste and therefore are best for salads. Older leaves may be slightly bitter and are more appropriate for sautéing or steaming. Ensure that the which ever variety you purchase, the plant is not torn, is free from soil and dirt, and the leaves are not wilted.Culinary Uses
· It is one of the traditional ingredients of the Provencal mesclun.
· Use it in green salad along with other greens like romaine, chicory, lavender etc and season with a mild cheese sauce.
· Saute lightly in olive oil or steam and cook along with pastas as a added vegetable.
· Arugula acts as a nutritive topping on pizzas. However, add immediately after the pizza is baked, so that it wont wilt in the heat.
· Grind along with olive oil and seasonings to make a variant pesto. Use this pesto with pastas, baked potatoes etc.
· In the Gulf of Naples, liqueur called Rucolino is made using arugula as a base. This drink acts as a digestive. It is a local speciality which has a sweet peppery taste.How to Store
Rinse the leaves in cool water and dry. Wrap leaves tightly in plastic or a zip lock bag. Best if used within two days.Health Benefits
· Like most salad greens, Arugula is very low in calories and is high in vitamin B9 (folate), vitamins A and C.
· It is also high in potassium which is important for proper nerve functioning, blood pressure and muscle control.
· It also has fair amounts of magnesium and calcium. Magnesium is important in the absorption of calcium and plays a role in bone health and maintenance