Arugula. Say that five times fast.
This tongue twister of a green, sometimes referred to as “salad rocket,” has found itself in the chicest of restaurants and the humblest of farmers’ markets. As the weather begins to warm, zesty arugula lends a peppery taste, perfect for a springtime dish.
Arugula is not only refreshing, but contains many vital nutrients. Getting your vitamins and minerals is as easy as enjoying a crisp salad.
Folic acid found in arugula leaves aids in making new cells.
Low calorie. Need I say more?
Vitamins A, C and K, all found in arugula, are good for your eyes, bones, brain function and overall health.
High levels of iron and copper that rival those of spinach.
Like many leafy vegetables, arugula contains water and is very hydrating.
Arugula grows best in cooler weather, making it the ideal green to plant in early spring or late summer.
It grows quickly, and requires rich soil, composting and fertilization.
Transplants should be planted 12 to 18 inches apart, while seeds should be sown closer and thinned as the plants begin to sprout.
Warmer weather will cause it to “bolt,” or shoot up and bloom, ready to propagate. This will make the leaves taste very strong, and you should either pull the plant up, or cut it back to get another harvest. The stalks will grow up to 36 inches tall and produce small white flowers. These can be used as an edible garnish.
Harvesting and Storing Arugula:
Luckily, you only have to wait about 30 days for your mouthwatering arugula to mature.
Harvest leaves with scissors. Cut them as needed when they are the desired size.
Smaller, or “baby,” leaves are more mild-flavored and tender, while larger leaves tend to be a bit more pungent and less tender.
To use in a bunch, cut the entire plant when it is about 4 inches tall.
Wash leaves quickly after picking.
Place washed leaves in a plastic, sealable bag with a paper towel to absorb moisture. They will stay fresh for about a week.
SEE MORE: What’s in Season: Carrots
Used in salads, sauces, sandwiches and more, arugula adds pizazz to your diet, along with numerous health benefits. Check out these fresh arugula recipes, and see some of our favorites below.