My neighbor came over this morning and said, “OK, Patsy Bell, I grew arugula. How do I use it?” Here’s what I had to tell my neighbor.
The English call it rocket; the French call it roquette, from the Italian rochetta. Native to the Mediterranean, arugula is a member of the mustard family (Brassicaceae). Its peppery mustard flavor makes it a favorite of mine in salads and mesclun mixes. I also use it in lettuce and cold pasta salads. In Italy, it is used as a pizza topping.
Pick the leaves while young. The flavor gets stronger as the leaves get older and larger. Home gardeners have the advantage with arugula because it is quite perishable. Arugula is used fresh or steamed in the way you might use spinach. Keep it close to the kitchen, so you can easily pick a few leaves for sandwich greens or add a bit to homemade pesto and salad dressings.
Arugula is slower to bolt than spinach. Add to pasta salads or homemade pesto.
Rich in nutrients, such as iron and vitamins A and C, and low in calories, your culinary imagination is its only limit in the kitchen. Because arugula is so versatile and comes in many varieties, don’t limit yourself to one variety or package of seed.
Arugula is said to have aphrodisiac powers. I’d like to know what you think about that.