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All about “Arugula / Rocket”

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Nutritional value of arugula

  Raw arugula, 1 cup (250 ml) / 20 g
Calories 5
Protein 0.6 g
Carbohydrates 0.8 g
Lipids 0.1 g
Dietary fiber 0.3 g
Glycemic load  : No data available
Antioxidant power  : Good, but exact data not available

Source  : Health Canada. Canadian Nutrient File , 2010.

Arugula health profile

The leaves of arugula have a taste slightly spicy and raise the flavor of salads , the soups and sauces . Like many other brassicas (crucifers), arugula contains various compounds that are believed to have anticancer effects . Its seeds are edible and serve as a condiment .

The benefits of arugula

Several epidemiological studies have shown that a high consumption of vegetables and fruits decreases the risk of cardiovascular disease 17 , certain cancers 18 and other chronic diseases , 2,19 . The presence of antioxidants in vegetables and fruits may play a role in this protection , 14 .

What does arugula contain?

The leaves and seeds of arugula contain flavonoids , particularly quercetin. Their exact concentration is not known, as few studies have been done on them 4-6 . Nevertheless, the consumption of foods containing quercetin would be associated with a decrease in the risk of cancer due to its antioxidant properties 20 .

Arugula also contains small amounts of lutein and beta-carotene, two types of carotenoids . Compared to different (hydroponically grown) lettuces, arugula is said to contain 2-5 times more lutein and up to 3 times more beta-carotene 7 . As carotenoids also have antioxidant properties, the consumption of foods containing them is also linked to a lower risk of suffering from certain cancers 8 .

Arugula, like most vegetables of the Brassicaceae (cruciferous) family of which it is a part (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, radish, etc.), contains glucosinolates 9,10 . Arugula seeds and sprouts are said to contain more glucosinolates than leaves 16 . However, studies of the amounts of glucosinolates in arugula are limited. Glucosinolates have the capacity to transform into active molecules (isothiocyanates) when the food that contains them is chopped, chewed or in contact with the intestinal bacterial flora 12 , 15 . Several of these molecules would help limit the development of cancer 11-13 .

Main vitamins and minerals

Vitamin K Arugula is an excellent source of vitamin K for women and a good source for men .
Vitamin B9 (folate) Arugula is a source of vitamin B9.

Recipe ideas

  • In salad . Add it to various greens (lettuce, chicory, lamb’s lettuce, baby spinach, etc.) and tomatoes. A vinaigrette with virgin olive oil and raspberry vinegar suits it perfectly.
  • Serve it as a garnish in sandwiches or on pizzas .
  • In salad . With cucumbers, tomatoes, red peppers, green onions.
  • With small fusilli-like pasta , cherry tomatoes, parmesan, pine nuts and olives.
with arugula
  • In salad . With fennel and pieces of orange.
  • With smoked trout, red beans, artichoke hearts and lettuce.
  • In the potato salad.
  • Add the less tender leaves to soups or stews . Ideal, in particular, to enhance the taste of leek and potato soup.
  • In pesto. Blend arugula leaves, pine nuts (or walnuts), Parmesan and lemon juice. Mix and add olive oil in a stream until a smooth sauce is obtained. Serve over pasta, white fish or poultry.
To access other recipes, you can visit the cooking recipes site, which offers the following recipes, among others: arugula salad, arugula pesto, arugula soup
Arugula seeds
At the end of the season, collect the arugula seeds and use them as a condiment to replace mustard seeds, for example. Seeds can also germinate, just like those of alfalfa, radish or cabbage. Add the young shoots to salads.
  • With prosciutto pasta . Sauté some prosciutto (or other Italian cold cuts) in oil. Add black olives in pieces and chopped arugula. Barely drain the pasta and mix it with the other ingredients in a bowl. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan, add two turns of pepper and serve.
  • In Portugal , the leaves are boiled quickly and served as a vegetable, with a drizzle of olive oil, as an accompaniment to meat or fish.
  • In Italy , arugula is served with bresaola , a beef jerky (like Grisons meat). Marinate the slices of beef with chopped garlic, crushed tomatoes and a drizzle of olive oil and lemon. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and set aside in the fridge. When ready to serve, add slices of Parmesan cheese, arugula and basil leaves and fleur de sel.
  • In Turkey , it is cooked for about half an hour with bulgur , onions, oil, chili paste, salt and water. Remove the saucepan from the heat, keep covered and let swell for about 20 minutes. Garnish with chopped green onions and serve.

Choice and conservation

To choose

For salads, preferably choose bunches of small , very fresh, tender and narrow leaves . More fibrous, the leaves of older plants will be used more in cooking. If necessary, remove the large ribs (midribs) before preparing them. In all cases, the leaves should be very green, unblemished and without soft spots.

To preserve

Refrigerator . A few days in a perforated bag placed in the vegetable drawer.

Freezer . Blanch the leaves, let them cool, drain them and put them in a freezer bag.

The little story of rocket

Common name: arugula.
Scientific names: Eruca sativa, Diplotaxis tenuifolia and D. muralis .
Family  : brassicaceae (synonym: crucifers).

Appeared in the language in 1538, the term ”  rocket  ” comes from the Italian rochetta , derived from ruca which, according to some, means “cabbage” and, according to others, “caterpillar”.

Under the name of “arugula”, we group together several species of plants from the Brassicaceae (or cruciferous ) family which are characterized by an astonishing “ mustard hazelnut ”  flavor  . The seeds, moreover, are used in the preparation of strong mustard. From 10 cm to 20 cm long, the leaves are narrow and in some species the rim is serrated, like dandelion leaves, but more rounded. Originating in the Mediterranean basin, rockets quickly spread east to India. They have been consumed since ancient times, and perhaps long before, by the various peoples who inhabited these regions.

Aphrodisiac, stimulating, medicinal …!

The Egyptians, Greeks and Romans attributed many medicinal properties to arugula, including that of being an aphrodisiac . In Antiquity, it was dedicated to Priapus, god of gardens, fertility and reproduction, whose emblem was the phallus. It was planted at the foot of his statue and “lazy” husbands were advised to consume its raw leaves and seeds. This reputation has not escaped the religious authorities who, in the Middle Ages, prohibited it from being cultivated in the gardens of monasteries.

This ban has more or less extended to the general population, so much so that, for a long time, Europeans only used it marginally in their diet. As for the reputation of an aphrodisiac, it is still valid, but science has not commented on the matter.

More and more appreciated

Arugula, arugula, rucola?
In Quebec, due to American influence, the rocket is sometimes called by its English name arugula , itself probably a deformation of the modern Italian rucola . Conversely, it is also called rocket salad in English.

Since the beginning of the XX th  century, its popularity continues to grow, particularly in the south of France and in Italy , where it is ready in many ways. It is also making its way onto the tables of North America, especially among the followers of healthy eating and among gourmets. The temperate climate of this continent suits it particularly well, to the point that it reproduces spontaneously in several places.

In India , the country where it is produced the most, it is cultivated mainly for its seeds, from which an oil is obtained which is used for cooking and for various industrial uses: soap making, lubricant, lighting oil, cooking oil. massage, component of medicinal mixtures. The cake (seed residue after oil extraction) is fed to livestock or made into compost. The seeds are also used as a seasoning in marinades .

Organic gardening

Sow early in the spring in well-drained soil. You can sow seedlings throughout the summer, but the hot weather makes the leaf harder and more fibrous and causes the plant to go to seed. Therefore, during the hot summer months, harvest the leaves when they are very young, which will stimulate the production of new, tender leaves. Also, protect against heat with a shade.

Soil pH : 6.0 to 7.0.

The space between the plants will be 15 cm to 18 cm, and that between the rows 30 cm to 40 cm.

Fertilization  : fertilize with manure or compost, preferably in the fall before sowing. Nitrogen should be used in moderation, which tends to accumulate in the leaves in the form of nitrates. It is recommended to harvest in the late afternoon, while the nitrate content of the leaves is much lower.

Irrigation  : Although arugula is well suited to dry climates and soils, irrigation has the effect of keeping the leaves tender, while drought makes them fibrous.

In hot, dry years the cabbage flea beetle can cause extensive leaf damage, puncturing countless small holes. In spring and fall, we can protect the plants with a light agricultural textile. During the summer, on the other hand, it will be necessary to resort to another solution because this textile increases the temperature in the immediate environment of the plants. Treatments with insecticidal soap (Safer’s, for example) may alleviate the problem without necessarily solving it completely. We can also accept to consume the leaves with their holes, the problem being strictly aesthetic .

You can harvest until late fall if you protect the plants with an agricultural textile designed to limit the effects of cold and wind. Depending on the species, you can harvest 2 to 5 times from the same plant at intervals of 10 to 30 days.

Ecology and environment

In the arid regions of northern India, arugula is one of the few plants that can be grown during bad winters. Indeed, it has good resistance to biotic (caused by living organisms) or abiotic (caused by chemical or physical factors that influence living beings) stresses. Its roots are able to quickly penetrate the soil in search of water that is found in the deeper layers.

In the desert regions of the Middle East, it is an excellent honey plant (whose nectar is collected by bees), in addition to being food for camels and sheep.

Finally, it was found to be extremely useful in combating nematodes that attack tomato, pepper, zucchini and cucumber plants. In organic farming , it is therefore made to precede these crops in the rotation cycle.


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