Friday, May 16, 2014

From Weed to Superfood: Arugula

Arugula is one of the leafy greens that’s enjoying superstar status in the food world right now. While kale and spinach are still vying for the position of the most popular, Arugula provides more calcium than any other green, making it attractive to vegans and those who are lactose intolerant.   Low in calories, high in vitamins, it nourishes and detoxifies as the same time.  It seems everyone has something good to say about ARUGULA.

However, it wasn’t always this way.  Arugula, otherwise known as roquette (or just plain rocket if you don’t speak French) was once regarded as a weed. Craig Claiborne, world-renown food critic/chef and prolific cookbook author is credited with introducing Arugula to the American public in 1960.  Today, you’ll find it on menus everywhere and at farmers markets and grocery stores around the country.

Arugula has become a superstar as many folks are looking to return to the foods that our ancestors ate hoping for improved health and vitality. Those foods with lots of flavor and color are thought to be better.  That is definitely true in the case of arugula. With its pungent, peppery flavor, arugula is not for the faint of heart. But, it is that boldness that has made it so greatly desired in today’s food market.

Rocket/Arugula is fairly easy to grow, (remember, I did say it was a “weed”) and unlike lettuce and some other greens, it can still be harvested once it “bolts” or goes to flower (that eventually produce seeds).  We seed and transplant arugula about once a month to keep all our Market customers happy with a steady supply of the pungent green throughout the year. Winter weather will slow growth considerably and make the leaves take on a reddish tinge.

Personally, I haven’t always been a fan.  Arugula was a little too hot and seemed a little too bitter for a salad.  (adventure eater I am not)  Until I added it (chopped fine) to a grilled cheese sandwich…oh my…that took the simple lunch to a whole new level. 

But, wait.

                          Arugula pesto is amazing! 

Here is a recipe suggestion – you can use more or less, according to taste. (and do add a little salt and pepper)
4 cups (packed) arugula leaves 
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/4 cup (packed) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup olive oil
1 clove minced garlic
Just puree the arugula, add few pine nuts, a little garlic, parmesan cheese and olive oil…and voila! (this will last at least a week in the fridge)

Even Tess gives it "two paws up"!

You’ve got to try this…it works on crackers or chips.  

Oh…and try it on noodles!

Nutritious AND Delicious!  Not too bad for a plant that was once considered a weed.


  1. Hey Barbara, I can never hear the word "arugula" without thinking of the funny Steve Martin movie, My Blue Heaven. He's a mob guy from NYC moved to California in the Witness Protection Program. In the story he goes to the Super Food place and asks for arugula. The be-boppy Souther California clerk says, "Arugula? What's arugula?" And Steve says in his best NYC accent, "It's a VEG- EH -TA -BULL."

    1. You won't believe this but this couple was shopping at the Market this morning, stopped in front of the arugula and did that very movie exchange and then convulsed in laughter before they walked further down the sidewalk. Really! (I know it wasn't you---you would have stopped and said HI...wouldn't you?)

    2. Oh, isn't that a funny coincidence? Wasn't me and Ray, tho. Definitely would have stopped and yakked, and probably would have ended up bagging stuff for your customers. Even though I'm an acupuncturist by trade, that's sort of the way I fell into walking thoroughbred racehorses at the track. Yakking and a trainer said: want to try wakling one?