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Arugula

Why Eat It
Availability
Shopping
Storage
Preparation
Nutrition Chart


Why Eat It

This leafy vegetable supplies folate (folic acid) and some calcium (which is unusual in a salad green--for example, arugula has more than eight times as much of this bone-building mineral as iceberg lettuce). Arugula is a cruciferous vegetable--a member of the same family as cabbage and broccoli--and like all such vegetables, it contains cancer-fighting phytochemicals called indoles. Arugula's dark green color and tart flavor are an indication that it also contains some beta-carotene and vitamin C (more than any other salad green). Arugula's pungent flavor adds interest to salads when mixed with other greens; it can also be sautéed and tossed with pasta. Although arugula is now pretty well known by this name, you may still find references to it under one of these aliases: rocket, rucola, rocket-salad, or roquette.

Availability

Arugula was once found only in Italian markets, but now is sold at many supermarkets and greengrocers. It is available year round, but is more plentiful in late summer.

Shopping

Arugula leaves look something like dandelion greens; they also resemble long, slender oak leaves. The leaves and their stems, are usually bunched and banded together for sale. Look for bright green leaves that are delicately crisp, and stems that are neither withered nor slimy. The younger (smaller) the leaves, the less likely that they will have an excessively pungent flavor; leaves that are just 2" to 3" long are young and tender. When grown in very hot weather, arugula will have a stronger taste.

Storage

Place the unwashed arugula in a plastic bag, closing it loosely to admit some air, and refrigerate.

Preparation

Cut off the tough parts of the stems by cutting across the whole bunch with a sharp knife. Separate the leaves, drop them into a basin of tepid water and swish them around to remove any dirt. Lift out the leaves (dirt and grit will remain in the bottom of the basin) and shake or spin them dry. Arugula is often quite sandy and may require several washings.

Add arugula to mixed green salads, or spotlight the leaves in a salad that features fruit such as pears or oranges; the peppery, pungent flavor of arugula complements the sweetness of the fruit. Add arugula leaves to sandwiches in place of other, less flavorful greens. You can also sauté arugula in olive oil with some chopped garlic; serve as a side dish or toss with hot pasta.

Nutrition Chart

Arugula/2 cups chopped raw

10
Total fat (g)
0.3
Dietary fiber (g)
0.6
1
Carbohydrate (g)
2
Sodium (mg)
11


Date Published: 04/19/2005
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