Arugula, also known as rucola or garden rocket is herbaceous plant that belongs to the mustard family. It originates from Mediterranean region, but it can be found all over the world today. Arugula prefers areas with temperate or cool climate, and requires fertile, well-drained soil and plenty of sun for the successful growth. It tolerates drought and it can be frequently seen in dry areas. Thanks to the high content of vitamins and minerals, arugula is part of human diet around the world.
Arugula is available year-round.
Arugula has small, pale green stem that can reach 8 to 40 inches in height.
Arugula is an excellent source of vitamin A to maintain healthy organ functioning and vitamin C to strengthen the immune system while reducing inflammation.
Arugula has pinnately lobed leaves with large terminal lobe and 4 to 10 lobes on the lateral sides. Young leaves resemble the leaves of spinach.
Arugula has historically been a staple ingredient in Italian cuisine as the subtly bitter, spicy cultivar was one of the most popular salad greens used in Ancient Rome.
Arugula produces creamy-white flowers with purple veins arranged in multi-branched clusters (corymbs). Flowers contain both types of reproductive organs (perfect flowers).
Arugula was also blended into sauces for added potency and was notably used in the famous dish moretum.
Arugula blooms during the spring and summer. Flowers attract insects which are responsible for the pollination of this plant.
Another version of a Roman Arugula-herb sauce was poured over salted fish and served as an appetizer with olives, bread, or vegetables.
Fruit of arugula is capsule (known scientifically as siliqua) filled with seed.
Arugula provided pungency in sauces and was believed to help awaken drowsy people, bring good luck, and provide a clear mind.
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.
In the modern-day, Arugula is still a favorite green for Italian salads and is incorporated into pasta, pizza, rice, and roasted meat dishes.
Arugula is frequently cultivated near the basil and parsley in the gardens because it repels pest with its spicy smell and taste.
Arugula is also used to make rucolino, an after-dinner liqueur served as a digestif made from spirits infused with arugula, lemons, and spices.
Arugula is good source of vitamins A, C, K and vitamins of the B group (especially B9) and minerals such as potassium, phosphorus and magnesium.
Arugula is believed to be native temperate regions of the Mediterranean in Southern Europe and has been growing wild since ancient times.
Young leaves of arugula have mild, sweetish taste, while older leaves have peppery, slightly nutty flavor. Arugula represents inevitable part of the Italian cuisine. It is mostly consumed as leafy vegetable, in the form of salad, topping for pizza and pasta, or as an ingredient of bread and dishes made of rice, meat and fish. In South America, arugula is often consumed with sun-dried tomato and mozzarella.
The plant’s first written record dates back to the 1st century CE, and the spicy greens were widely used in Ancient Egyptian and Roman empires.
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.
Arugula was once believed to be an aphrodisiac, used in combination with lavender as a love potion to awaken the mind and body.
Flowers, seed pods and seed of arugula are also edible.
Arugula was eventually introduced to the New World through European immigrants, and over time, the greens have experienced periods of immense popularity to seasons of disdain, with the most recent surge in the 1990s among American chefs and consumers.
Oil obtained from the seeds of arugula, called Taramira oil, is used for cooking and preparation of salads. This oil can be also used in medical and cosmetic purposes.
Today Arugula is common worldwide, cultivated through commercial growers and sown in home gardens as a pest-resistant plant.
Arugula can increase libido and improve health of cardiovascular and gastrointestinal systems (by increasing motility of bowel). It can also reduce inflammation, facilitate removal of the toxins, heavy metals and pesticides from the body, relieve symptoms of gastric ulcers and prevent development of certain types of cancer.
The peppery greens also provide calcium to protect bones and teeth and lower amounts of folate, iron, vitamin K, copper, zinc, and magnesium.
Arugula was very popular in the Ancient Rome because of its aphrodisiac properties.
In addition to vitamins and minerals, Arugula contains glucosinolates, which are compounds believed to have detoxifying properties and also give the leaves their pungent, slightly bitter flavor.
Arugula is an annual plant (life span: one year).