Which of the following statements are true?
Arugula is a cruciferous vegetable that comes in numerous varieties.
Other names for this vegetable include rocket salad, rucola, rucoli, rugula, colewort, and roquette.
This vegetable can be excellent for your health, providing cardiovascular benefits to cancer-prevention benefits and more.
Vitamin K found in fresh arugula can boost bone health.
This tasty treat has long been a treasured food, even mentioned in ancient writings.
Arugula pizza is one of Farmer Lee Jones’s favorite dishes.
So, which ones do you have marked down as accurate? The reality is that ALL of them are true and, before we go into any more depth on the rest of these statements, here’s more about number six.
When asked about his favorite pizza topping, Farmer Lee quickly responded with “arugula.” And, here’s the beauty of this information. If you haven’t met Lee yet, but are in a pizza shop, here is a quick and easy way to determine if Lee is there with you.
Look around to see how many cheerful-looking men are wearing denim overalls, a crisp white, short-sleeved dress shirt, a red bow tie, and a cap.
Listen to hear which of them says, “I’ll take arugula pizza, please.”
You’ve just met Farmer Lee Jones!
Now here’s more about the incredible flavor and versatility of farm-fresh arugula, along with how this leafy green is packed with nutrition.
When asked why arugula is such a favorite vegetable, Lee pointed out how this crunchy fresh green is delicious in every single stage of its growth, from a microgreen through its flowering stage. Plus, flavors can be quite complex. Traditional arugula, for example, offers up a nutty flavor at the start, along with a wonderful note of sweetness, and then it develops a taste that can best be described as salty, peppery, and spicy.
Here’s what else is really nice. Because the arugula plant tends to be both heat- and cold-tolerant, it can effectively be grown twelve months out of the year, making it available for creative dishes throughout the seasons.
To demonstrate how this leafy green vegetable is equally as available in the winter as in the spring and summer, here’s a fun story about how the entire Chef’s Garden team, including the 8 to 5 office rats, banded together to ensure that every New Year’s Eve order traveled from the greenhouse to box to kitchen in time to celebrate year-end revelry in restaurants around the country and world. This included scissor-snipping boxes of micro arugula!
Here’s what else is intriguing about arugula. There are so many interesting varieties, including bowtie arugula. “With just a little bit of imagination,” Farmer Lee says, “you can see how this type is bowtie shaped.”
Other varieties include:
red ribbon arugula
A writer at Spoon University names arugula as her favorite fresh greens for salads, offering up the following reason why: “Arugula will add a serious kick to your salad by giving it that peppery taste. It will honestly take a salad from bland, to a kick-ass, fresh, make you wanna dance salad (maybe not literally, but it sure will taste better).”
She also makes this recommendation: “try arugula on top of a pizza and your life will be changed forever.”
An article at TheKitchn.com suggests that you first dress your arugula lightly in a lemony vinaigrette before you “mound onto your pizza,” while NPR.org makes these recommendations.
“Sautee it in olive oil and garlic for a simple side dish. Blend it with pine nuts, olive oil and cheese for a distinctive pesto-like sauce that can be tossed with either pasta or warm potatoes for a modern potato salad. To appreciate its unadulterated full flavor, enjoy it raw, tossed in a salad with salty prosciutto and sweet watermelon, scatter it on top of a warm-from-the-oven salami and mozzarella pizza, or nestle it inside a hot, gooey grilled cheese smeared with olive tapenade.”
And, if you’re feeling thirsty, try this Verdi Mary created by Culinary Vegetable Institute wine steward and mixologist Liz Studer. This riff on a Bloody Mary replaces tomato juice with a strained combination of lettuces, mustards, edible leaves—and, of course, fresh arugula.
In Uncommon Fruits and Vegetables: A Commonsense Guide by Elizabeth Schneider, the author notes how arugula displays “one of the most vervy and attractive leaves” to add to your dishes, noting that traditional arugula has leaves “somewhere between oak-leaf lettuce and dandelion in shape.”
She notes the following delicious pairings:
In Italy, arugula is often paired with radicchio and a “softer pale lettuce.”
In Provence, it’s part of the “celebrated mesclun salad, a toss of baby and bitter lettuces and mild herbs.”
It can also serve as the “perfect foil for mild, creamy goat cheese, whether marinated, fried or baked, warm or cold.”
Arugula pairs brilliantly with “the citrus sweetness of oranges (especially blood oranges).”
It “contrasts eloquently with creamy avocado, sweetened with a touch of balsamic vinegar and nut oil.”
This book also contains wonderful arugula recipes.
Another delicious way to use arugula is in an olive oil-poached vegetable dish that also includes green garlic and fava beans. This was the garden course of a Culinary Vegetable Institute collaboration between Chef Jamie Simpson and Chef Ülfet Ozyabasligil Ralph, one blogged about by a Cleveland attendee, Alicia M. Hansen. Although she included photos of other courses, this arugula recipe was “unpictured because Hans and I were too busy finishing off the family style platter brought for our table of ten. #sorrynotsorry.”
Then, there is the modern interpretation of a 19th-century dish, served at an event covered by Cleveland.com. This event began to become a reality after Chef Jamie was given a copy of an 1887 cookbook titled The White House Cookbook. This cookbook was used by chefs to prepare meals for the 19th President of the United States, Rutherford B. Hayes, and his family. Once Chef Jamie was given this cookbook, his mind started spinning—and the result was a menu that included an intermezzo of Parsnip Sorbet with walnut liqueur and arugula blossom.
Then there is our Squash Blossom Infused Vodka that also contains whey, lemon, fine white port—and, yes. Arugula blooms. Plus, here’s information about a grilled flank steak dish, served at the Cleveland Botanical Gardens, that came with chimichurri with arugula, avocado, and tomatoes and feta cheese tossed with lemon vinaigrette.
In fact, fresh arugula is so versatile that it’s sometimes called the culinary chameleon, “at times assertive, yet often subtly spicy. The young, tender leaves are delicately sweet with a buttery-smooth texture and an understated peppery taste enhanced by nuances of nutty flavor. Older leaves are more assertive, with a distinct peppery tang reminiscent of a sharp cress or pungent mustard. In contrast, the tiny white flowers reveal a new dimension of culinary versatility, tasting more like a delicate blend of sesame and almond.”
And, what’s even more wonderful is that, with arugula, you don’t need to choose between flavor and healthy eating. You get both. This is the concept behind Farmacy at The Chef’s Garden, and here’s what Farmer Lee has to say about that subject. “The way I look at it,” he says, “dining experiences aren’t just about satiating the stomach. If that was the case, then people could simply go to a grocery store or farmer’s market and load up on food. What people really want is to satiate mind, body and spirit. That happens when foods are flavorful, nutritious and visually appealing.”
Now, here’s more about arugula health benefits.
According to Medical News Today, arugula is listed in the top 20 foods in the Aggregate Nutrient Density Index, also known as the ANDI score. To rank highly in this list, a food must “provide a high amount of nutrients for a small amount of calories.” In fact, arugula is in the top 10 ANDI score foods.
You can eat two cups of arugula and take in just ten calories, with that very small caloric intake also providing you with the following of your recommended daily allowances:
20 percent of vitamin A
more than 50 percent of vitamin K
8 percent of vitamin C, folate, and calcium
Mercola.com shares more information about arugula nutrition, pointing out how:
This veggie is an excellent source of fiber.
It’s also a great source of “calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and manganese.”
Arugula provides “high levels of protein, riboflavin, thiamin, zinc, vitamin B6, copper and pantothenic acid (vitamin B5).”
The beta-carotene in arugula supports eye health as it converts this substance into vitamin A, especially promoting someone’s ability to see at night and in other low light situations. The lutein and zeaxanthin in this leafy vegetable may help to protect people against developing macular degeneration, which is a leading cause of blindness as people age.
Plus, fresh arugula contains a trio of minerals that can help to control blood pressure: calcium, magnesium, and potassium. Each of these minerals works to help blood vessels to relax, which in turn helps to manage healthy levels of blood pressure.
Then there are the cardiovascular benefits of arugula. This is true, in part, because of the role it plays in helping to manage blood pressure levels, plus it’s a good source of folate, which can help with amino acid metabolism—which in turn helps to regulate homocysteine levels. If they get too high (the homocysteine levels, we mean), then this can increase the risk of heart disease, so the folate is a useful layer of protection.
Plus, the glucosinolates found in arugula break down into compounds that can help your body to rid itself of cancer-causing substances before they can cause harm. These compounds found in arugula may also help to slow down the development of cancers connected to hormones.
Additional health benefits of arugula include the following:
Vitamin K is crucial for calcium to be absorbed into your bones and teeth, and three cups of daily arugula would provide all your body typically needs of this important vitamin.
EcoWatch.com calls fresh arugula the “perfect hydrating and cooling food in the summer.”
It contains substances that can help to suppress inflammation in the body while also cleansing out toxins.
The folate in fresh arugula may also help to prevent or reduce cognitive decline.
We know that our chefs love to use arugula in their culinary masterpieces, and so have people for centuries. Here’s more about the history of the arugula plant.
According to Mediterranean Vegetables, this leafy green vegetable was probably first grown in northwestern India, Tadzhikistan, Uzbekistan, western Tien Shan Province, and southwestern Asia. Fresh arugula has been grown in Europe and the Mediterranean for thousands of years by now, as well, both in arugula salads and for medicinal purposes.
In general, experts believe that the vegetable called oroth, mentioned in the Old Testament, is what we call arugula today. Plus, ancient Jewish writings from the first through fifth centuries A.D. mention this cruciferous vegetable.
The Romans believed arugula to be an aphrodisiac (which is supposedly why it used to be banned from monastic gardens!) and they also used the leaves in arugula salads that contained romaine and lavender, and they used the seeds to flavor oils.
Then there’s Pliny the Elder, who wrote about arugula in Historia Naturalis. This book, completed in 77 A.D., is considered the world’s first scientific encyclopedia. In it, the author discusses how arugula was used as an anesthetic. Finally, if you’d like to take a deep dive into how and why people in different countries use such different names for arugula, then this article by BonAppetit.com is just right for you.
At The Chef’s Garden, we harvest our fresh vegetables right when you order them to ensure the peak of freshness, flavor, and nutrition. If you’d like to have farm-fresh arugula shipped directly to your restaurant, contact us online today! Your product specialist is here to help.