Arugula is technically known as a salad green or salad herb. Add to lettuce, tomatoes and any other mixed baby salad greens, and create new and exciting taste sensations.
You can usually find arugula in the fresh produce section in your health food store or at larger super markets. Like most salad greens, Arugula is very very low in calories and is also high in vitamins A and C.
Arugula is also known as rocket, roquette, rugula and rucola, and is very popular in Italian cuisine.
Rinse the leaves in cool water and dry on paper toweling. Store in zip lock bag. Best if used within two days.
Its leaves have a unique, peppery sweet tang, adding pizzazz even to the blandest salads. Although arugula provides a flavor impact, it does not have an aftertaste.
Cultivation of Arugula
Site: Arugula or Roquette is easy to grow. It likes full sun, but will tolerate partial shade.
For best results, grow Arugula, quickly during cool weather, in moist, fertile soil. It gets the name "Rocket" for its speedy growth under these conditions. The soil should be rich, and drain well. Mix compost into the soil, prior to planting. Add fertilizer when planting. Weed around plants frequently.
Propagation: Arugula or Roquette is grown from seed. Directly sow Roquette seeds your vegetable garden early in the season. Cover seeds lightly with 1/8" or less of fine garden or seed starting soil. Seeds will sprout in 3-10 days. Seeds sprout in cool soil at 40 to 55 degrees. After seedlings have sprouted, thin to two inches apart in rows 12" - 18" apart.
Growing: To grow Arugula, the daytime temperatures must be cool (below 75 degrees) and it must get about 3-4 hours of sunlight a day. Similar in form to lettuces it grows from the center sending new leaves from that point. When the plant gets to a certain point in its life, (usually when the temperature heats up in early summer) a flower stalk will be sent up from the middle and no more leaves will grow. The white flowers are edible but small.
Plant crops for spring and fall. For a continuous harvest during this period, plant succession crops. Arugula will withstand light frosts.
Harvesting: Arugula is ready to harvest in 40 days.To harvest Arugula, pick off the outside tender leaves at the base of the plant. Leave the center growing point intact for future harvesting. Discard larger leaves as they tend to get tough and very bitter tasting. Leaves can also taste bitter in warmer weather. Eat fresh or cooked like spinach.
Culinary Uses: To use Arugula in cooking, add fresh leaves to salads, it goes great with parmesan cheese and balsamic vinegar. It can also be put on pizzas or added to soups.