Arugula has grown in popularity in recent years, becoming a frequent addition to salads. Its peppery and woodsy flavors provide this green with a distinct flavor. Arugula is native to the Mediterranean region, and grows in parts of southern Europe and the Far East. Although commonly thought of as a relative of lettuce, arugula is actually a member of the Brassica family, which includes broccoli, and cabbage. Arugula was thought to be an aphrodisiac in ancient Rome and Egypt. Cultivated by the British for centuries, arugula was brought to America by the colonists.
- Arugula is a fantastic source of vitamins A and C, folic acid, manganese, calcium, and magnesium.
- It also contains riboflavin, potassium, copper, iron and zinc.
- A 3½-once serving of arugula contains 104 calories.
- Arugula contains anticancer compounds called glucosinolates that encourage antioxidant activity.
- Glucosinolates also stimulate natural detoxifying enzymes in the body.
- Because it contains so many essential vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals, arugula is an excellent source of antioxidants.
With a long peak season, arugula is best between June and December. Arugula grown in the summer tends to have a more peppery flavor – to diminish the peppery flavor, lightly sauté it. Before preparing arugula, always taste it, as it can range in flavor from mild to extremely spicy. Mixing arugula with other, less spicy greens, can help cut its bold flavor while creating a interesting salad. Try lightly sautéing arugula with garlic and olive oil as a side dish to different proteins or pasta. For more preparation ideas, you can read my book, “The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods”