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Healthy Eating – Green Leaves and Rocket

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Arugula is a popular leafy salad from the Brassicaceae family. Botanically recognized as Eruca satvia, it is native to areas around the Mediterranean in Portugal, Lebanon and Turkey. It is an annual plant that can grow up to a meter tall but is usually harvested when it is less than 20cm tall.

Any part of the aerial parts of the plant can be eaten. The leaves are the most common, but the flowers have been used in many dishes and as an edible accompaniment. The seeds and seed pods are also edible. The leaves add a slightly peppery flavor to salads.

Arugula can be grown in the home garden and the leaves picked as needed. If you have a greenhouse or an area where you can grow them covertly, you can pluck young leaves directly from the pot or seedling tray. I grew several trays this way last year in a mix of commercial potting soil with additional coco peat for moisture retention. These trays were more than enough for us for several months.

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Arugula has only been grown as a vegetable for about 15-20 years. Leaves were plucked from wild varieties and eaten until their popularity increased and became a popular green salad. Historically, however, Rocket has been used since at least Roman times.

As a member of the Brassicaceae family, it has similar nutritional value. It’s a good source of vitamin C and potassium. The nutrients are stronger when arugula is eaten uncooked.

The leaves can be cooked but are usually served raw with other leafy lettuce. They were often used for color and flavor on pizza.

To summarize the many uses of Rocket:

  • Arugula leaves, pods, and seeds can all be eaten. The flowers also serve as decoration and are also edible.
  • Arugula leaves can be cooked but are more commonly used in salads. They were used as a topping on pizzas to add color and flavor. When added to pizzas, they are often left until after cooking.
  • Arugula leaves are excellent in salads tossed with finely chopped or grated radish, grated carrots, spinach leaves, Spanish onions, and baby coleslaw leaves.
  • Arugula leaves can be boiled and eaten as a side dish or served in soups and stews. Cooked arugula is perhaps a cross between spinach and cabbage.
  • Arugula is a fast grower and could be ready to eat in salads within 4 to 6 weeks of being grown.

Arugula would be an ideal addition to any vegetable garden. It’s also a good starter vegetable for kids when they start pottering around in their own vegetable patch.

Thanks to Eric J Smith

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