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Thursday, September 5, 2013

Arugala



Arugula:

Arugula is a member of the mustard family.  Its scientific name is "Eruca sativa".  Arugula is also known as "rocket salad" in Great Britain and the U.S..  In Italy it is "rucola" and in France "roquette".   Arugula is  cruciferous vegetable along with broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage.  It originated in the Mediterranean and was introduced to North America by Italian immigrants.   Early Romans thought eating arugula would bring good luck.  Today arugula is cultivated worldwide and is available year round.

Arugula has fine, smooth, dark green leaves that are notched near the bottom.   It can be eaten raw in salads with olive oil, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper, or as a garnish.  It can be cooked as a leafy green vegetable.  It can be added to pastas, grains, sandwiches, wraps, and soups, or also makes a spicy pesto.   It is a great alternative to iceberg lettuce because it has a much greater density of nutrients with the same low calories.

Like other cruciferous vegetable arugula is associated with reduced risk of cancers.   It is rich in phytochemicals that have been shown to combat cancer-causing elements in the body.  Arugula is a great source of folic acid and vitamins A, C, and K.  It has high levels if iron and copper.   Arugula's peppery flavor provides a natural cooling effect on the body on a warm day.

Look for arugula with the roots still attached.  It keeps it's zip and flavor better.  Buy bright, tender, and fresh looking leaves with no signs of yellowing  or dark spots.  It should not show signs of limpness.   Use arugula as soon as possible after purchasing.  If you have to keep it a day or two do not remove the roots or wash it.  Just sprinkle with a little water and wrap in a paper towel.  Put in a plastic bag and refrigerate.   Remove the roots and wash only when ready to use.  Arugula tends to be sandy so wash it well. 

There is a sweet peppery digestive alcohol called "rucolino" that is made from arugula on the island of Ischia in the Gulf of Naples.   It is enjoyed in small quantities after a meal such as "lemoncello".

So there you have it: Arugula.  Eat up!  Enjoy!