The tender leaves of arugula (Eruca sativa) are alive with the energy of spring. Arugula, or roquette, is a distinctive, somewhat peppery green. It’s very versatile and can be used fresh in salads, mashed for pesto, thrown on top of a pizza, or sautéed and tossed into a pasta sauce.
Arugula, a wild herb, is easy to cultivate and is often grown by home gardeners. It enjoys the cool spring weather, and the first crop is usually mild and tender. You may notice how its flavor changes throughout its growing season, getting more peppery and robust as the weather turns warmer. The flowers that appear in the warmer weather can also be used in salads.
Like most greens, arugula is low in calories and rocks the pops in antioxidants. It’s rich in many essential vitamins like A and C, folic acid, calcium, manganese, and magnesium. It’s also an excellent source of potassium, iron, zinc, riboflavin, and copper. At four calories per cup and around a half-gram of carbs, you can afford to dress arugula up in rich rock-star salad dressings with sparkling grapefruit or toasted pine nuts and Parmesan cheese for a power-chord finale.
To prepare, wash, and spin the leaves. Some people prefer to de-stem the leaves, while others find the stems quite tasty. It’s a personal preference.
Arugula is tender and should be eaten as soon as possible. Store your arugula in the refrigerator with a moist paper towel inside a loose plastic bag.