Friday’s food: Arugula

Arugula

A row of Eruca sativa planted in a vegetable bed

Are you ready?  OK, here goes – garden rocket, rocket, eruca, rocketsalad, arugula rucola, rugola, ruchetta, rughetta, rukola, roquette, rokka, roka, ruca, beharki, voinicia, rucola, oruga, jareer, aruka, borsmstar – all refer to the same leafy salad green Americans commonly refer to as arugula.  Wow.

With that many names, you’d expect it to be a lot bigger than a little garden green!

This Mediterranean native has been enjoyed for thousands of years in that region where it was commonly gathered in the wild.  Now cultivated as a crop (especially in Veneto, Italy), it made its way to America via immigrants from Italy, Portugal, the middle east, and surrounding areas.

Not your typical American breakfast

Arugula is an annual plant closely related to the radish; the leaves, seed pods, and flowers are all edible.  The younger, more delicate leaves have a milder taste than the peppery older ones.  All can be eaten raw or cooked.   Not only does it make a great substitute for spinach when sauteed in a bit of oil, you can also sprinkle it on pizza just before service, mix it in with hot pasta (or even as a substitute for basil in pesto), sprinkle on soup – there are so many options.

News flash! Not every country in the world has bacon and eggs for breakfast.  Check out this stick-to-the-ribs option from Cairo, Egypt: stewed fava beans, pickled vegetables, fresh bread, and fresh arugula.  A breakfast like this would keep you going a lot longer than some high-fat high-sodium alternative.  Why not give something like this a try?

 

This leafy option is high in vitamin C, potassium and many other nutrients.  Try substituting for spinach first, and then get a little bolder with some of these recipes:

Mariquita Farm
Simply Recipes

Image info: Wikimedia Commons

Do you have a favorite arugula recipe?

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