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All About Arugula

on January 12, 2013

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Megan, our go to nutrition counselor, provided us with everything we need to know about Arugula and gave us this excellent recipe for white bean and arugula salad!

What is Arugula?

Arugula is a dark leafy green in the cruciferous family of vegetables. It is closely related to
broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy, and brussel sprouts, which are some of the most potent anti-
cancer foods around. It has a peppery, mustardy flavor with a slight bitterness. Younger
leaves, known as baby arugula, are more tender and less pungent than the more mature
greens. Arugula leaves are shaped like oak leaves or dandelion greens.

This salad green is also very aromatic; its seeds were at one point used to make an aromatic
oil. Popular in both Italian and French cooking, arugula greens have only recently become
a mainstay of the American diet; in fact they have become a trend. Arugula is also called
rocket, or roquette.

Nutritional Benefits of Arugula Greens

There are a number of nutrients in arugula, although most are found in small quantities.
A serving size of five cups provides a hefty portion of vitamins and minerals; one cup only
offers a fraction. Still, arugula greens provide a readily absorbable source of calcium, iron,
manganese, copper, and potassium. They are also a good source of vitamins A, C, K,
and folic acid. All the nutrients in arugula come with a mere handful of calories per serving.

The primary benefits of arugula leaves are due to their phytochemical content. Like all
cruciferous vegetables, this green should be eaten on a regular basis to prevent most types
of cancer. Research has linked a diet high in cruciferous vegetables with disease prevention
time and time again. They are pound for pound the most potent anti-cancer foods. Some
of the phytochemicals, such as glucosinolates and sulforaphanes, are responsible for
stimulating enzymes which help the body cleanse itself of toxins and potential carcinogens.
Others are powerful antioxidants. Carotenes for example can protect against sun damage,
heart disease, and cancer. They also improve communication between cells, something that
may play a large role in the well-being of cellular function.
Arugula is also a wonderful source of chlorophyll, a compound that the body can always
benefit from because chlorophyll cleanses and energizes the blood. It helps bring large
amounts of oxygen to all parts of the body, creating an environment undesirable to viruses
and harmful bacteria. Chlorophyll also supports healthy skin, and limits the potential of
carcinogens.

In order to absorb the highest quantity of the nutrients in arugula, this vegetable should be
eaten raw. Fortunately, it serves its role as an ideal salad green. Full of flavor, arugula greens
enhance salads. They can be mixed with milder greens, or simply tossed with a simple
vinaigrette, sliced cherry tomatoes, and crumbled walnuts. Baby arugula makes a better
salad green than larger-leafed arugula because of its milder flavor.

Arugula is excellent cooked as well. As long as the greens are not overcooked, most of the
nutrients are retained. Sauté arugula with olive oil and garlic at a medium-low heat. Sprinkle
with salt to taste. Add this green to soups or stews, fold into omelets with shredded cheese,
put on pizzas, even sandwiches.

White Bean and Arugula Salad

Ingredients:
• 1 cup of organic, low-sodium chicken broth or stock
• 1 container organic and washed arugula (or baby arugula) greens [This normally yields
5-6 cups]
• ¼ of a small yellow onion, minced/finely chopped
• ¼ tsp of Himalayan sea salt (or any other sea salt)
• dash of pepper to taste
• 3 TBS of extra-virgin olive oil
• freshly-squeezed juice of 1 lemon
• 1 or 2 cloves fresh, minced garlic
• ¼ cup dry, white wine (optional; adds a nice balance to the beans)
• ¼ cup fresh grated parmesan cheese (this is the powdery kind – it blends better in the
bean mixture)
• ¼ cup fresh shaved or shredded parmesan cheese (for garnish)
• (optional) 1-2 cups of fresh mushrooms such as oyster (or gourmet blend)
• 1 can organic (if possible) white beans
• 1 can organic (if possible) pinto (or other light bean…you may even just want to use
two cans of white beans)

*  I recommend using Eden Organics canned beans because they are organic
and are packaged in BPA-free cans, which is an important health concern

Directions:

1. Rinse and pat-dry arugula and arrange on a long platter.
2. In a frying pan on low-medium heat, sauté chopped onions and garlic in olive oil until
soft. Be careful not to have heat too high, for this damages the olive oil and actually
makes it unhealthy.
3. If cooking with mushrooms, add the mushrooms and sauté until soft, tender, and
mixed well with the onions and garlic. Add salt and pepper here and mix in well.
4. Rinse and drain cans of beans and add to the pan. Sauté and mix well, about 3
minutes.
5. Slowly pour in the chicken broth/stock to the beans in the pan and stir until evenly
mixed. Add lemon juice and stir well. Allow to come to a gentle boil on low heat.
6. Add the grated parmesan cheese to the mixture and stir well. If you are lactose
intolerant or avoiding dairy, you may leave this out. The purpose is to add another
dimension of flavor and thicken the texture.
7. Allow bean mixture to slightly cool (about 5-10 minutes) before carefully spooning atop
the arugula greens.
8. Garnish with shaved parmesan and enjoy.

*I make this recipe ahead of time to use throughout the week for lunch. Rather than pour the
entire bean mixture on all of the arugula, I keep the bean mixture in a separate container and
can gently re-heat and spoon on top of the arugula right before I eat it. This batch will easily
last me 3-4 days for a hearty lunch.

Image: springhillcommunityfarm.com

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