{Foodie-Friday: Obama-rugula}

29 Jan

Food: Arugula

Arugula is a leafy-green, which means it can be used just like lettuce or spinach.  It has a much more spicy flavor than some other greens, so it makes a great addition to salads or even as a salad of its own.  Some people liken the taste to radish, but I don’t think it’s that strong.  Arugula also makes a great addition to stir-fry or pesto.  Use it raw in salads or on top of pizza, garlic bread, or chicken, or mix it up with other ingredients to make pesto or salsa.

Pronunciation: ah-ROO-guh-lah

Word, to yo mother (or Etymology)

The Latin name is Eruca Sativa. Say “Eruca” 5x fast and you can kind of get it.  Around the world, it’s also known as Garden Rocket, Rocket (British English/Australian & New Zealand English), Eruca, Rocketsalad, Rucola (Italian), Rukola (Macedonian, Serbian, Slovenian, Polish, Danish, Czech), Rugola (Italian), Rauke (German), Roquette (French), Rokka (Greek), Roka (Turkish), Ruca (Catalan), Beharki (Basque), Voinicică (Romanian) Rúcula, Oruga and Arúgula (Spanish), Rúcula(Portuguese), Jarjeer (Arabic), Ruchetta (Italian), Rughetta (Italian) and Borsmustár (Hungarian)…

Random Fact

Obama offended Iowa’s citizens during the campaign by asking, “Anybody gone into Whole Foods lately and see what they charge for arugula?”.  Apparently this had people scratching their heads wondering exactly what ‘arugula’ was.  They were also a little offended that Obama thought they had the money to be shopping at Whole Foods.  This is just one example of how many view arugula as an “elitist” green or a “snobby” food.  Granted, I hadn’t heard of arugula until a couple of years ago, but since I started eating healthier, I can’t escape it.  It’s everywhere.  I think it’s a great, tasty green and reject any “elitist” motives.  And I didn’t really know about Whole Foods until a year or two ago.  So, I understand Iowa’s confoundment. But as hard as I try, I can’t figure out why Barack would choose arugula or Whole Foods to talk about in Iowa.

Where Is It Grown?

It grows wild in Asia and all over the entire Mediterranean.  It can be cultivated just about anywhere else.  Start with seeds, which will be begin sprouting in about 7 days, and ready to pick in about a month.  Softer, rich soil placed in a sunny place is ideal, but it can tolerate a variety in soil and sunlight.  In the Summer months, it’s actually best to place it in partial shade. 

 

Can You Grow It At Home?

Yep! It’s actually a good choice for an indoor garden, too.  It can be grown indoors year-round, and it grows quick. Start with seeds, which will be begin sprouting in about 7 days, and ready to pick in about a month.  Softer, rich soil placed in a sunny place is ideal, but it can tolerate a variety in soil and sunlight.  In the Summer months, it’s actually best to place it in partial shade.  Check out this article for some insight on how easy it is to grow.

When Is It In Season?

It begins to be ready to harvest in late Spring and throughout Summer.  It can be planted on a rotation, and because of its short growing time, it will continue to grow until a frost hits.  Or it can be brought indoors.

Storage & Shelf-Life

Arugula doesn’t store well.  It seems best to grow your own, and pick it when you’re ready to eat it. Freshly picked arugula should be dried on a paper towel, and then stored in the fridge for up to a few days.

Ummm, Why Should I Care?

Arugula is a readily absorbable source of calcium, iron, manganese, copper, and potassium. It is also a good source of vitamins A, C, K, and folic acid. Most people think of calcium only coming from milk or cheese, but dark, leafy greens are just a good of choice.  These nutrients come with only a few calories (really, just a few!) per cup serving.  It’s like the proverbially free-lunch come true. 

Another big benefit is their phytochemical content. Eaten on a regular basis, it’s been proven to prevent most types of cancer. Research has linked a diet high in leafy greens and other vegetables with disease prevention time and time again-they are pound for pound the most potent anti-cancer foods. Some of the phytochemicals are responsible for stimulating enzymes which help the body cleanse itself of toxins and potential carcinogens.

Arugula is also a wonderful source of chlorophyll, a compound that the body can always benefit from. Chlorophyll cleanses and energizes the blood. It helps bring large amounts of oxygen to all parts of the body, creating an environment undesirable to viruses and harmful bacteria. Chlorophyll also supports healthy skin.

Other Uses

It’s known as the “romantic salad green” because it has been used as an aphrodisiac as far back as Roman times. ::Bow chicka wow wow::

Although it’s fallen out of favor now, previous times have seen arugula seeds being mashed and used for diffuser oils.

In fact, the seeds and flowers of arugula plants are edible.  Many love the flowers, although I’ve yet to eat them.  Use them as a garnish on a salad or other dish.

Recipes

I happen to love pairing arugula with something sweet.  No, no.  Not chocolate.  More like strawberries or pineapples.  I’ll throw either, or both, on top of greens for a great salad, or use pineapple and arugula on top of grilled chicken breasts.  Basically, I throw a handful of arugula on top of everything.  No need to make it harder than it is.

Arugula Pesto

Tuscan White Bean and Arugula Soup

And…because I secretly love Gwyneth Paltrow and her Goop site:

Broccoli and Arugula Detox Soup

I'd love to hear what you think! Leave a comment below.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: