Arugula known by many other names, is an annual plant from the family of Brassicaceae. It’s known for its tart, bitter and peppery flavor and for its many health benefits. The plant and its taste was well known throughout the antiquity and the middle ages. It’s now available pretty much all over the globe including the US where it has found many applications as an addition to spicy recipes.
The interest of arugula or rucola as it’s sometimes called become especially high in the 1970s when experimenting with foreign foods and dishes become the norm.
- Arugula is used for the manufacture of sweet alcoholic beverage called Rucolino in the Gulf of Naples. Small quantities of this liqueur are traditionally consumed after the meal.
- Name “garden rocket” refers to the fact that arugula grows extremely fast (rocket speed). Leaves are ready for the harvest 40 days after sowing of seed.
- Arugula is frequently cultivated near the basil and parsley in the gardens because it repels pest with its spicy smell and taste.
arugula Buying Guide
Arugula is a seasonal plant meaning that you should look for it late spring, during the summer and in early fall. You should look for the vegetable while it looks fresh meaning green and lush. If the leaves are yellow, withered and slimy you should avoid it.
If you’re buying arugula prepacked, you should make sure that there’s no extra water in the container because that will cause it to rot and lose its fresh qualities.
The leaves should also be long and slender so that they are easier to slice and use.
arugula Production & Farming in Texas
Arugula is mostly grown in northern Texas and what makes it interesting is that a big part of the production comes from small urban farms. That’s partly because the quality of the soil isn’t of the essence with arugula and partly because the market for it is mostly in the cities as well.
It needs to be planted in the well-drained soil and preferably in soil that’s humus rich. Arugula is planted in late summer and in areas that have plenty of sunlight. Farmers usually sow new seeds every two and 3 weeks in order to have continues harvest.
It’s best to harvest it when the leaves are young. That’s at about 2-3 inches’ length and the time to do is at early winter. The plants are pulled off the ground entirely and the leaves are then cut off and packed to be stored and sold.
It’s also important to remember that the white flowers of an arugula are also edible and that they present a source of secondary income for farmers since these are mostly sold to niche markets, such as high end restaurants and professional chefs.
All the pesticides that are used on kale and spinach are also used on arugula and that means that you’ll do better to buy it organic. It’s also important to note that it has a high residue time, meaning that the pesticides linger on it for a while.
Arugula originates in the Mediterranean region and it’s especially well received in Spain, Portugal, Italy and Morocco. Over the years it has found its place to many other dry and wet soils alike. It’s not clear when it came to the US but it’s possible that it has happened with the Spanish settlers and Italian migrants.
It’s grown both commercially and in small gardens since that’s how it was grown in the past, as a part of a larger eco system and without commercial plans. Many chefs grow their own arugula for the needs of a particular restaurant.
Arugula is packed with great care in order to preserve its taste and freshness. That starts with triple washing and drying the vegetables in an air-tunnel, but in a gentle manner that won’t damage the leaves.
After that the vegetable is packed based on the portion size and weight and there’s usually a plastic wrapping because it’s the easiest way to do it even if it’s not the most eco-friendly. There’s still an expiration date, after which arugula is still edible but less fresh.
Arugula isn’t eaten on its own but as an addition to dishes and recipes. How it will be prepared depends on what kind of dish you plan to add it to. For the most part it’s a part of salads (then the key to preparations is to keep it fresh) or as a part of entrees when the goal is to pack a punch.
There are two basic things you could therefore do. You could steam the arugula in a pan or a skillet. This is where you add olive oil and other spices to make it into something more than it is on its own. The second is to add the leaves of arugula as they are to another dish while it’s. This is mostly done with pasta.
Start by washing and drying arugula with care and attention to details. After that you can put it in a bag between paper towels. Zip the bag and store it in the crisper draws of your fridge. That’s all there is to it, you can reuse it for a long period of time without losing any of the taste.
Arugula can be used in a lot of different ways. Some are simple as putting it on a pizza as a topic, or adding it your salad or pasta. Others are more complicated and require the arugula to be sautéed or steamed.
Place the arugula leaves over the hot pan and drizzle it with herbs and spices. Using a soft slotted spoon, stir the arugula leaves every now and then. As soon as the leaves start to wilt and turn to vivid green in color, remove the skillet from the heat. That’s the process known as sautéing.
According to the United States Department for Agriculture (USDA) nutrient database, a cup of arugula weighing about 20 grams (g) contains approximately 5 calories.
A cup of arugula also contains: 0.516 g of protein 0.132 g of fat According to an adult’s daily nutritional goals, set out in the FDA’s daily values (DV), a cup of arugula will provide: 27.7% of vitamin K 3.2% of calcium 2.5% of vitamin C.
Arugula also contains some iron, folate, magnesium, potassium, and provitamin A.
When Are Arugula in Season in Texas?
To find out when Arugula are in season in Texas, please check the seasonal chart below. Why is this important? We are rarely encouraged to think about the physical lengths our food travels before arriving on the market shelves. And all of this travel comes with a hefty environmental cost that is concealed from the consumer’s eye. One of the most salient benefits to eating seasonally is that you are effectively reducing your carbon footprint and supporting a more geographically sustainable food economy. Check other fruit and veg that’s in season in Texas now.