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Arugula

Arugula

Since it hit American grocery store shelves a few decades ago, arugula has skyrocketed to popularity as an aromatic, zesty salad green, as well as a tasty ingredient in pastas and on pizzas.

Nutritional Highlights

  • Make a salad of fresh mixed arugula, and your brain will surely thank you. A large handful of raw arugula — or about 85 grams — is an excellent source of folate, delivering 20 percent of a nutrient that helps to support a healthy nervous system.
  • Fresh arugula is also an excellent source of vitamins A, C and K, which (respectively) support eyesight, promote healthy gums and contribute to your blood's ability to clot properly.

History

Also known by its European name, rocket, arugula has been used in salads for a long, long time. Though it's a relative of the mustard plant, arugula was originally considered a cabbage substitute (its name comes from eruca, which is Latin for a cabbage-like leafy green). In the U.S., this flavorful green was practically unheard of until the 1990s, when it rapidly rose to popularity. Today, you can buy it fresh in nearly any supermarket, and for cheap!

Varieties

There's really only one type of arugula out there, though it may vary in size. The smaller, younger leaves tend to be more tender, while larger, more mature ones leaves have a slightly hotter taste.

When is Arugula in Season?

Arugula peaks in the spring and early summer, when sunny, rainy days keep its leaves tender and mild.

How to Choose Arugula

Fresh arugula will look similar to dandelion leaves - small, teardrop-shaped and bright green. Most arugula comes bagged or in plastic box packages, either by itself or as part of pre-mixed salad greens.

How to Store Arugula

A bag or box of fresh arugula will go straight into the fridge. If you happen to buy it in loose leaves, place them in a resealable plastic bag before refrigerating. Arugula is usually best if eaten within five days or so after you buy it.

How to Cook with Arugula

The simplest way to include arugula in your cooking is to mix it into a salad. Simply rinse the leaves first to cleanse away any dirt or grit that might be clinging to them. You might even like a small salad that consists of nothing more than fresh arugula and some light vinaigrette dressing. It all depends on whether you like salads with a strong, leafy taste or a milder, less noticeable flavor. Do you like Romaine lettuce, chard, chicory, endive or kale? If so, you may love a straight arugula salad. As for cooked dishes, arugula can be added (whole or chopped) to pasta sauces and pizzas for a flavor boost.

Key Measurements

As a garnish or accent, arugula is usually measured in individual leaves. As a more substantial ingredient (as in salads), you'll probably dole it out in whole cups.

Substitutions

In salads, there are plenty of other greens that have a similarly vibrant flavor and rough texture. Try watercress or dandelion greens for a similar peppery and slightly bitter taste, or Romaine lettuce and kale for a milder substitute.

Arugula in Recipes

You can use arugula to jazz up three straight courses - first the appetizer, then the salad and main dish.

For starters, try this Caramelized Onion-Tomato Focaccia, which uses a half-cup of arugula to tantalize your tongue.

Next, use a heaping helping of arugula and watercress to make this Healthified Spring Vegetable Salad Over Fresh Greens, which blends zucchini, asparagus, green onions and peas - with a dash of salsa and vinegar to top it off.

Finally, lime juice, honey and arugula make Healthified Marinated Pork with Summer Corn Saladabsolutely impossible to resist!

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