Howdy Friends and Fans of ESH! How are y'all doing? We hope everyone is healthy, happy, and hydrated. Today, Lettuce Chat about arugula. Eruca vesicaria. That delicious, leafy green, with a peppery bite that graces a plenitude of dishes, salads, and plates. Arugula belongs to the Brassicaceae family, genus Eruca. You might recognize that brassicaceae word, as many use the term brassica for the family of plants which includes cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, mustard seeds, turnips, etc. You often hear arugula called "rocket", "rugula", or the Italian word "rucola", which is ultimately how we derive the American word arugula.
Generally, you will find arugula leaves to look like oak leaves, some varieties with sharper, pointy-edged leaves and others with softer edges. There is even an arugula that has a purple vein appearance! ESH arugula has softer, round edges (and now and then you might find a pointy leaf in the crop). There are many varieties of arugula out there, and they all boast a peppery flavor, which will bring any dish up a notch. I love a simple arugula salad, with Parmesan cheese shaved over the top, and a simple dressing (if any), or adding it to the top of a juicy steak.
Arugula is quite nutritious as a source of folate, vitamins K, A, and C, as well a source of calcium, magnesium, and manganese. It can be served fresh (raw), or cooked, steamed, boiled...pretty much any which way. (Although it should be added to your dish at the last minute, if you are cooking it.) It can also be frozen if you wish to preserve it and cook with it later (similar to frozen spinach).
A quick search of its history will reveal its use in many regions. Arugula has a prominent history rooted in the Mediterranean, appears in Roman records, from its use as an aphrodisiac, and written about by Roman classical authors. But today, at ESH, arugula holds prominence in our greenhouses, as we are growing tables of the luscious green blankets of peppery arugula. It is very difficult to walk past a table and not grab a leaf for a taste of this week's crop. It never disappoints!
We hand-cut our arugula fresh each week, and we have an arugula crop all year around. Just like regular (traditional soil) farming, we are still subject to mother nature. We have amazing greenhouses, and they help us with climate control. Some crops (most crops really, and you've likely heard me say this before) like arugula do still react to heat and cold, therefore we have fluctuations in volume. Sometimes our arugula crop is ginormous, and sometimes it is small. When it is cold, the crop tends to stay smaller, and if you see leaves any color than green (purple-ish), it is due to how cold it got. Our arugula rarely becomes too bitter, because we cut it at just the right time, and it never gets to the point where it could bolt.
ESH Friends and Fans, we just love your affinity for ESH arugula! We have the same affinity, and we appreciate your enthusiasm for it. Lettuce share how you love to use arugula in your dishes. Until next time, Friends and Fans!