Our Plant of the Month: Arugula
Arugula is our plant of the month for a reason. It’s healthy, it’s delicious...and it blooms on the first day of Spring. Fitting, right?
Despite what that blizzard raging outside the nearest window may or may not be trying to tell you, it’s almost springtime. Really, have hope — in just a few months the current moments of cold and gloom will be entirely behind us.
What is Arugula?
Arugula is a cruciferous vegetable. That puts it in the same family as broccoli, cauliflower, and kale. People often mistake Arugula for a leafy green...but it’s actually an herb!
And like many herbs, Arugula’s flavor is spicy and peppery. Combine these complex notes with something to balance them out, and culinary magic can happen.
Is Arugula Healthy?
In a word...yes. Arugula may not be as flashy as maca root or witch hazel or echinacea, but it’s practically a superfood. Why? Because it’s literally packed full of nutrients. Take a look:
- B Vitamins | The B vitamins are a class of compounds that support healthy metabolism — aka, they help us produce energy. Arugula is especially rich in one B vitamin called folate. Folate is critical to cell growth, which means it’s also critical for pregnant women and their babies.
- Calcium | Calcium is one of those minerals that’s pretty much essential to life itself. Calcium is best known for its role in keeping our bones and teeth healthy, though there’s much more to it than that. Calcium is also anti-stress in nature and can be used to calm the nervous system.
- Potassium | Potassium is a mineral that doubles as an electrolyte. Think of it as a facilitator of flow — it’s involved in muscle contraction, heart contraction, neurotransmission, and more. On a cellular level potassium also counteracts sodium. You know what that means: sprinkling a little sea salt on your roasted arugula is not only safe, it’s encouraged.
- Vitamin A | Vitamin A is a versatile antioxidant that supports both the immune system and overall eye health. The vitamin is so powerful that it may prevent age-related vision loss in the long run. Vitamin A can also do everything from strengthen bones to reduce acne.
- Vitamin C | Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that strengthens the immune system. In addition, vitamin C helps keep skin and collagen networks healthy and strong. It’s true you can get vitamin C from many different sources. But it’s also true you can throw said sources into an arugula-based salad.
- Vitamin K | While ancient diets varied in many areas, one thing they had in common was high vitamin K intake. Vitamin K is that important — and arugula has tons of it (27.7% of your RDA per serving, to be exact). To really harness arugula’s K content consider frying it in something fatty, like butter. Mmmm. Just do it for science.
- Polyphenols | Polyphenols are a type of plant compound loaded with antioxidants. By reducing whole-body inflammation, polyphenols are thought to reduce a variety of different diseases.
Move over, generic multivitamins. We have a more down-to-earth winner!
Why We Love It: Arugula Recipes
Of course, arugula’s goodness far transcends the presence of antioxidants and vitamins. The herb is so delicious that it’s probably also good for the soul.
When eaten raw, arugula has a crisp, peppery taste that’s absolutely delightful. (To the adult palate, at least. Your kids may not like it unless they’re especially classy.) Throw it fresh into salads alongside tomatoes and grilled vegetables, or use it to spice up your normal cold-cut sandwich. Our favorite vinaigrette also goes great with arugula — check it out here.
Much like onions or garlic, arugula goes through quite a metamorphosis when heated. It trades out those peppery notes for something earthier and mellower...something that perfectly complements a homemade pizza. Arugula can even be used to spice up the flavor of pesto. There are other possibilities, too, so feel free to experiment with it!