Auspicious Arugula

Curious about arugula?  Looking forward to spring greens? Whitney Hughes, Ashley Cooper, Liz Muggah, Andrea Clarke and Brianne Barteaux, nutrition students at Acadia University, tell us all about it.

Arugula is a leafy salad green, much like spinach. It is very nutrient dense, but not as commonly eaten as other greens. We hope this blog post will be informative, spark an interest in trying this vegetable, and encourage you to be adventurous in your everyday produce selections.

Arugula is a very simple green to cultivate, best grown in the late spring or early summer in mild weather. A sunny location is ideal for best growth results. If you plant arugula in the late summer, it should be in a shaded area or covered by cloth for protection.  Arugula is quite picky, as it does not like to grow in intense heat but prefers cool temperatures. Once the seeds have been planted, the soil should be kept moist until seedlings’ appear which usually takes 1 to 2 weeks. When the plant has reached 1 to 2 inches it is ready to be picked.

The plant reaches 3 to 4 inches when it is fully grown. At this point you can either cut the leaves and use them as needed, or pull up the entire plant. If only the leaves are cut, they will regrow for future use. Keep in mind that the younger the plant, the more tender and tastier the leaves will be! At full growth, arugula flowers will appear, which can also be used in salad for a mild taste addition.

Arugula is sold by the bunch or in loose leaves, both in the store and at the local market. When buying arugula, look for undamaged dark leaves, as damaged leaves will not last long.

Arugula, like most leafy vegetables, is low in calories and high in vitamins and minerals. The fibre content for 2 cups of arugula is 1.6 grams. About 20% of your daily recommended intake of vitamin C is found in one serving of arugula, along with half of your days worth of Vitamin A. Arugula is a good source of Folate, providing one quarter of your recommended daily intake.

There are many different ways to eat arugula. The most common way is in a salad, however there are many other creative ways that it can be presented. Arugula can be a spicy addition to your favourite sandwich, a tangy stuffing, or a powerful pesto that is a great complement to many soups and sauces, and can even be used as a pizza topping!

Since vitamin C is both heat and water sensitive preparing the vegetable with care is vital to retain nutrients. Sautéing is the most common way to cook arugula, so keep in mind that minimum cooking time is best!  To prepare arugula, trim the roots and stems from the leaves and rinse vigorously in cold water. To dry the leaves, blot them with a towel. Now your arugula is ready to rock in the bowl! If salad is not your thing, cooking arugula might be! When heated, the texture and colour of arugula will be limp and dark green much like spinach.

Arugula does not keep for very long; it is advised to use arugula soon after purchase. It can keep for about 2-3 days refrigerated if you put it in a perforated plastic bag and storing it with damp paper towel to help maintain its quality and flavour. Cook arugula briefly if you plan to freeze it.

Arugula Salad with Beets and Goat Cheese Recipe

Salad Ingredients:
½ cup Beets – (boiled until a fork easily goes in it, about an hour), peeled, sliced into strips
2 cups Fresh arugula – rinsed, patted dry with a paper towel
½ cup Goat cheese – chevre
½ cup Walnuts – chopped

Dressing ingredients:
1/3 cup Olive oil
3 tbsp Lemon
¼ tsp Dry powdered mustard
1 tbsp Sugar
Salt and pepper to taste

METHOD
The amount of ingredients depends on how many people you are serving and how much salad you intend to serve them. The important thing is that this is a good blend of flavors. I didn’t try tossing this salad; each plate was composed individually.

The dressing for three individual salads was 1/4 cup of olive oil, 1/2 lemon, 1/4 teaspoon of powdered mustard, 3/4 teaspoon of sugar, salt and pepper to taste.

Assemble the salad according to how much you want. A handful of arugula leaves, a few beet juliennes, some crumbled goat cheese, garnish with chopped walnuts. Toss with the dressing.

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