Hailing from the Mediterranean, this beach babe flourishes in arid soil and full sun. Once spurned as a corruptive aphrodisiac, “rocket” (as our British pals call it) has fought a Footloose-style battle for popular acceptance. So kick off your Sunday shoes and get to know the spicy little leaf that will quickly kick boring old lettuce out of your (garden) bed. That’s right – we’re rappin’ about Arugula.
What to Look For
In its prime, arugula is bright green, with long, thin leaves built up of slanted green ellipses, which fuse broadly around the spine of each leaf. At the store, look for arugula that fits this profile and appears slightly stiff. When you get home, discard any leaves that seem floppy, yellowed, withered, or bruised.
Beauty with a Bite
Since the Classical age, poets have romanticized on the stimulating powers of arugula, probably based on the strong and spicy taste of the leaf, which is much more aggressive than that of other common greens. In the Middle Ages, arugula was said to have been banned from monasteries so as not to provoke the monks to sin.
Nowadays, arugula is grown and eaten all over the world and unlikely to raise eyebrows at the dinner table. But it still has a pungent, peppery flavor that is best paired with mild friends like mozzarella, pasta, potatoes, and cuts of beef.
Fueling Your Life
Let arugula power your day. This low-cal treat loads you up with a host of essential vitamins and minerals, including potassium, folic acid, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin B-6, beta-carotene, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, iron, copper, and calcium.
The bulk of these nutrients aid in neural function and the nervous system, as well as the respiratory system and the processing of oxygen to prevent the build-up of cancer-causing agents. So your body will circulate oxygen properly through your blood to power your brain and keep you sharp. Let’s see your morning bagel do that.
Eat It With
Arugula is often used as a base for salads (throw in some red onions, pepperoncinis, kalamata olives and feta, and you’re golden). It’s also delicious in deli sandwiches with mild meats like beef, or cooked into pizza or creamy pasta dishes. Raw, pickled, or cooked, arugula holds its integrity pretty well. If you choose to cook with it, just add it to your dish toward the end of the cooking process to minimize withering.
Try It Now
We’ve got plenty of opportunities for you to try out standard and baby arugula next week (and every week at Home Chef because we’re big fans of this hearty, zesty green).