If you ever see a salad green referred to as “rocket,” it’s simply another name for arugula, or roquette in French. Yet another brassicaceae along with kale and cauliflower, its delightfully pungent leaves have been cultivated in the Mediterranean since time was recorded. As such, arugula is a perennial favorite in Italian cooking.
Rather nondescript in appearance, arugula is often added to mesclun mixes, where it adds a delicious zest. While the young, paler leaves have a mild flavor – good for fresh dishes like salad and pesto – the older, darker leaves have a bit of pepper to them, making them stand out in soups and pizza toppings.
It’s an excellent source of fiber, vitamins A, C (to boost the immune system), and K (for bone strength), folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and manganese. Arugula also provides high levels of protein, thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B6, zinc, copper, and pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) for raising good cholesterol levels and lowering the bad. Its flavonoid content has multiple benefits: to prevent cholesterol from sticking to arteries, lower blood pressure, increase blood flow, lower inflammation, and improve blood vessel function.
To store, rinse the leaves in cool water and dry on paper toweling. Then, wrap leaves tightly in plastic or a zip lock bag. Arugula is best if used within two days.