Arugula: The Wild and the “Regular”

Arugula: The Wild & the “Regular”

Just thought I’d give a shout out to arugula. This is a fantastic time of the year for this wonderful, healthy green and it may be a good time for all you first timers to give this a try.By Robbie Sigona

Arugula, also known as rocket, roquette, rugula, rucola, by any other name is just as peppery and pungent. It is an herb-like salad green that in recent years has become a favored ingredient among food enthusiasts; from amateur gourmands to famous faces on the Food Network.

Arugula, a peppery, herb-like salad green, in recent years has become a favored ingredient among food enthusiasts.

Wild arugula has a different look and flavor than regular arugula

We carry both regular and wild arugula in our markets. The wild variety, which we get from a farmer in Hollister, has both a different look and flavor than regular arugula. Wild arugula has thin, jagged leaves, a punchier peppery taste and is hardier than standard arugula. Though it’s called wild arugula, this variety is now cultivated and can be found in most specialty grocery stores and farmers’ markets.

My uncle Carmelo cooked at a Eucalyptus magazine sponsored event at Bloomingdale’s in Palo Alto last month where he used wild arugula as the star ingredient. Knowing the flavor of the wild variety has more punch, he developed an arugula salad with blood oranges and currants, topped with a sherry vinegar and blood orange vinaigrette. Blood oranges are out of season now so we tweaked the recipe to work with strawberries. See the “In the Kitchen with Sigona’s” feature for that recipe and more.

Regular arugula, which we get from a farmer in Half Moon Bay, has long, dark green leaves that are more rounded and are deeply lobed like an oak leaf. Its peppery bite, due to its heritage as part of the mustard family, adds a fresh, bright flavor to green salads. Younger leaves, or baby arugula, are more tender and less pungent than the more mature greens.

Arugula is commonly found in Italian dishes, such as salads, pizzas, soups and pasta, as it lends a burst of fresh flavor, but it’s equally as good as a garnish for a basic turkey sandwich. It’s very low in calories and, as with most greens, is a good source of vitamins A and C, folate, calcium, and magnesium. My wife and I have been adding arugula to our dinner lately. Besides adding arugula to our green salad, one of our favorite ways is to prepare an arugula pesto and add it to our pasta or vegetables, such as potatoes.

Be sure to check our “In the Kitchen with Sigona’s” feature in the e-newsletter for more serving suggestions and my produce tips for more about how to buy and store arugula.

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