Arugula

Arugula , you either love it or hate it. My customers are really divided on this one. I find that if you like radishes you will usually like Arugula too.

Arugula is a leafy green native to the Mediterranean region. Its common names are Italian Cress, Roquette and Rucola and Rocket. Arugula (Eruca vesicaria sativa) is in the brassica (cabbage) family.

Arugula is eaten all over the world in salads soups and on pizzas. Arugula is a great source of vitamins A, C, K as well as folate, calcium, iron, copper and magnesium. Arugula was discovered by the early Romans to enhance sexuality. They started eating it as an aphrodisiac. It is now combined with other herbs to make “love potions”!

Arugula is easy to grow but it will bolt (go to seed) very quickly so the best way to keep some on hand it to replant a batch every few weeks. The variety that I like to grow is Astro from Johnny Selected Seeds. This variety is the most heat tolerant and the slowest to bolt. Astro is a salad variety. There are also other varieties that are more similar to the European types these are Bellezia, Selvetta and Dragon’s Tongue, also available from Johnny’s Selected Seeds.

Arugula likes to grow in a rich sandy loam soil in partial shade. I have also grown it in full shade in the summer and it likes that too. It is a cold hardy plant and will tolerate some frost. You can plant it 4 weeks before your first frost date and it will keep in the fall garden until the temperatures drop below 25 deg. F. In zones 8-10 you can grow it all winter long.

There are a few bugs that like Arugula. Flea beetles will eat tiny holes in the leaves and aphids will also attack in the spring. Cabbage loopers can be a concern too.

You can start to harvest the leaves once the plant is about 4 weeks old. I pick the outer leaves off and leave the center to grow again. If it does bolt on you, you can harvest the edible flowers and soft flower stems and add them to stir fries or salads. Arugula can be eaten fresh as a salad, in soup, stir fries and as a substitute for spinach in any recipe.

Arugula is a spicy, pungent green that you can add to your diet for some wonderful variety. After doing some research I found 3 paleo salad recipes that pair this spicy green with delicious cooling veggies and meats. Give these paleo meals a try!

  • Salmon Arugula Salad: Paleo Leap consistently has some of the most beautiful and simple recipes of all of the Paleo food blogs. This recipe seems like the perfect arugula infused lunch! 
  • Shrimp & Arugula Salad: this recipe is sweet and simple with just a few ingredients that when together create magic. Give it a taste! 
  • Arugula Salad with Lemon Balsamic Dressing: This is the perfect side salad for those hot summer days when the Arugula is freshly harvested. 

 

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