native to: Mediterranean region
in season here: spring
Arugula, also called salad rocket, rucola, rucoli, rugula, colewort, or roquette, is another member of that nutritious Brassica family, related to mustard greens, cauliflower, cabbage, and kale. It likes cool weather and can be ready for harvest within 40 days of planting, making it one of the first spring crops to show up in farmers’ markets. Although it’s the leaves that are usually eaten, the flowers, pods, and seeds are also edible. It should be noted, however, that once flowers appear, the leaves will be tough and bitter. Some sources recommend serving arugula with something sour, such as lemon or vinegar, to minimize its bitterness. The oil of arugula seeds, called taramira oil, is used in northern Indian cuisine.
Arugula has been recognized as an aphrodisiac since at least the first century C.E., and eating it regularly does in fact increase sexual energy and enhance athletic performance. Like many leafy greens, it has cleansing properties that support the liver and counteract the effects of heavy metals (as in mercury, not Metallica). It lowers the risk of cancer, improves bone health and eyesight, and is good for the skin and brain. It is good for the metabolism, improves mineral absorption, and boosts the immune system. There’s lots of folic acid, vitamins A, C, and K, carotenoids, potassium, manganese, iron, calcium, and phytochemicals in there, and arugula is low in oxalates so even those troubled by kidney stones can eat it. Since chlorophyll has been shown to block the carcinogenic effects of grilling foods at a high temperature, arugula makes a great addition to barbecue fare, either in a salad or as an alternative to plain lettuce on burgers.
label-style nutrition information for raw arugula
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