So, when to harvest spaghetti squash? The best time is early to mid-fall. In the northern…
There are several types of arugula but before we explore this plant further, let’s quickly look at what it is.
Arugula is a member the mustard family of vegetables. It is classified as an “herb,” but it is commonly referred as a “vegetable.”
It is grown all over the world, including Europe, Asia, Africa and North America.
Growing up, arugula was a staple part of our salads as my parents grew it in their massive garden.
I think the peppery flavor attracted them although I am not completely sure. Being Italian immigrants, peppers and everything connected with them were a huge part of their lives.
So I got an introduction to the types of arugula at a very young age although a lot of what I learnt back then is a distant memory. So let’s look at some of the types of arugula, it’s taste and it’s nutritional value.
There Are Several Types of Arugula
There are many types of arugula, including Baby Arugula, Astro, Selvatica, Red Dragon, Italian Cress and the most popular, Rocket.
Each type of arugula has different characteristics and uses. Baby arugula is best used raw in salads and sandwiches. Rocket is great for making pesto and pasta dishes.
Arugula grows well in warm climates and requires little care. You can grow it inside or outside. Plant seeds directly into soil or use seedlings you buy at local garden centers.
If you plan to harvest your arugula early, start planting seeds indoors 4 weeks prior to the average last frost date. Plant seeds about a third (8mm) inches deep and 2 inches (50mm) apart in rows 12 inches (30cm) apart.
Water regularly during the growing season. Harvest mature plants when the leaves reach 1-3 (25mm-75mm) inches long.
Remove the entire plant, roots and all. Rinse the leaves under cold water and pat dry. Store arugula in resealable plastic bags in the refrigerator crisper drawer up to 5 days.
The Arugula Taste Test
Arugula is one of my favorite vegetables. I love it raw, cooked, and even in salads.
It’s got a peppery, slightly bitter flavor that makes it perfect for adding some zip to dishes.
But what exactly do you taste when you eat arugula? And how much arugula should you add to a dish?
Let’s take a look at what arugula tastes like and why there are variations among people.
From my own experience, the taste of arugula is a little like puffing a cigar or sipping wine. There is a lot going on there with a little taste or hint of something.
For example, arugula to me is a little peppery, which we’ve already established. But it’s also a little sharp in a shocking sort of way. In a sense, it’s almost unkind in it’s taste but addictive. And yes, there are signs of bitterness there.
Okay, so they aren’t the best qualities for a good tasting food. But that’s the thing about arugula, it’s bitterness and sharp taste is it’s attraction.
And it is such a great addition to other foods such as salads.
If you ask a hundred people what arugula tastes like, you may get a hundred different answers. So if you haven’t tried it yet, what are you waiting for.
Because arugula is often served raw, it’s important to understand how it tastes.
When you cook arugula, the heat intensifies the flavor. For example, when you sauté arugula, it takes on a very intense flavor because the heat causes the chlorophyll to break down into pungent chemicals called isothiocyanates (family or organic compounds).
These chemicals make arugula taste spicy and peppery.
Does Arugula Have Nutritional Value?
Arugula is actually a very healthy choice for salads, sandwiches and pasta dishes.
It’s loaded with nutrients like vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, calcium and fiber. And there are even studies showing that rocket/arugula could help fight against certain types of cancers.
In fact, research published in the journal of Nutrition & Cancer indicates that people who ate five servings of vegetables each day had a lower risk of developing colon cancer compared to those who consumed fewer than three daily servings.
The study followed over 30,000 men and women for 10 years. Those who reported eating five or more servings of vegetables per day had a twenty per cent lower risk of developing colorectal cancer compared to those who ate less than three daily servings.
Researchers believe that the protective effect came from antioxidants contained in cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cabbage and kale.
Another recent study from Harvard University showed that people who eat lots of greens every week have a lower risk of breast cancer. In fact, researchers found that women who ate six or more cups of green leafy vegetables per week had a forty percent lower chance of getting breast cancer than those who ate three or fewer cups weekly.
And while we’re talking about nutrition, here’s another reason why you want to add arugula into your diet.
This superfood contains folate, which is essential for proper cell division and DNA synthesis. Folate is also important for helping to prevent neural tube defects during pregnancy.
So adding arugula to your plate might just keep your baby safe inside and out.
All Types Of Arugula Basics
Arguably one of the most common members of the mustard family, arugula is actually a type of chicory.
It’s grown primarily in Italy, France, Germany, and Spain, where it’s used in both savory and sweet dishes.
My parents just loved it as I mentioned above. I remember I wasn’t a fan as a young boy but you know how this goes, the older you get, the more your tastes change.
We’ve looked at some types of arugula and other types include curly endive, radicchio, and frisée. Again, the most popular variety is rocket.
This green leafy vegetable looks similar to lettuce and spikier.It’s usually sold without the outer leaves. In some respects, it has the appearance of a cross.
I would imagine if you saw it growing wild you wouldn’t think it would be edible. You might even mistake it for a weed. But sometimes it’s the “ugly ducklings” that will grow up and surprise you.
Wild Arugula vs Regular Arugula?
Wild arugula is hard to come by, but it offers many health benefits. It tastes better too. If you grow either type of arugula, you’ll reap the benefits.
We’ve established that Arugula leaves are used in salads and sandwiches. They’re also good in soups and stews. You can eat arugula raw or cooked.
Wild arugula grows best in cooler temperatures. By this, we mean not blazing hot weather. It prefers full sun and well-drained soil. It’s considered invasive in some areas.
Regular arugula grows best where winters are cool and mild. It likes cool weather and fertile soil. It doesn’t like really hot weather or dry conditions.
Both types of arugula require about the same amount of water. But wild arugula needs less fertilizer than regular arugula. And because it’s tougher, wild arugula requires less pesticide.
If you live in an area where wild arugula isn’t growing, you can still buy it online. Look for “wild arugula,” “rocket” or “arugula.”
So which is best?
Personally, if I can get wild arugula, I’ll choose it over regularly grown arugula. I liken this to choosing wild duck over domestic duck.
Wild always seems to taste better. But only consume it when you know it’s been processed correctly.
Storing Tips For All Types Of Arugula
Arugula is one of my favorite greens because it is super easy to grow and delicious.
However, I find myself confused about how long to keep it in the fridge. Some people say you can use it immediately, while others say you must wrap it up tight in a paper towel and put it into a plastic bag.
The truth is, I wish I had just followed my parents lead and stored it the way they did.
Basically, you can overthink this. Here’s a short lesson.
– Wash the arugula and then leave it to dry. Make sure there is no moisture on it at all.
– Get yourself some zipper bags. Before you place them in the bags, use Bounty paper towels. I say bounty because it’s the best and sturdiest paper towel and won’t fall apart. Once you’ve put them in the paper towels, put them in the bags. Make sure the air is out of the bags.
– Once you’ve put them in the bags, place them in the fridge. The crisper drawer is usually the best place.
One thing I always do is eat them within a week. That’s if I place them in the fridge.
You can freeze arugula using this method but again, make sure the air is out of the bag.
And while they’ll last several months, for best results, try to consume the arugula within 4-6 weeks.
In conclusion, there are many types of arugula that vary in taste, color, and size.
Arugula is a versatile leafy green that can be used in salads, sandwiches, and other dishes.
It is a good source of nutrients, including vitamins A, C, and K, and minerals such as potassium and magnesium. Arugula is also high in antioxidants, which can help protect against disease.
As I’ve said before, don’t overthink this food growing process. Arugula may not be a common name to most but it’s a commonly used ingredient in food.
Use it to add that extra sharp taste when you require it.