A is for Arugula

If it is true, all you need is love; well maybe a bit of arugula will help?  Ancient Romans and Egyptians considered this peppery herb to be a potent aphrodisiac.  And to this day, Italians covet arugula as a digestive aid.

Arugula is a fragrant, peppery and mustard tasting green leafy vegetable that is commonly used in Italian cuisine. This salad green has delicate, narrow leaves.  Since the Roman era, arugula has been grown in the Mediterranean.   Used primarily as a salad green, arugula can also be found in pesto, as a pizza topper or sautéed in olive oil and served wilted as a side dish. Often mistaken for a sort of lettuce, arugula is in fact an herb.

A member of the highly regarded Brassica family, arugula, along with her sisters broccoli, Brussels sprouts and kale, provides a hearty dose of health promoting nutrients.  For the weight conscious, arugula is top notch, loaded with calcium, Vitamin C and K, with a mere 20 Calories in a 3-cup serving!  For an extra bonus, arugula provides omega 3 fatty acids, known to promote a healthy heart, and lutein, a phytochemical shown to reduce the risk of macular degeneration, a cause of blindness in the elderly. So…what are you waiting for, give arugula a try!

Enjoy arugula simply tossed with a generous splash of olive oil, juice of one fresh lemon and dash of sea salt and pepper.   I also enjoy adding some shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano which complements this mustard tasting herb.  Toasted walnuts add a nice touch too.

I love thinly sliced grilled chicken with this tasty arugula salad.  And my second most favorite way to  enjoy arugula is as a topping on pizza!  Gran Gusto located at  90 Sherman St in Cambridge, MA makes a wonderful Prosciutto and Arugula pizza, it’s worth the trip! Have a favorite arugula recipe, please share!