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The world of herbs
J.E. Kinghorn


ARUGULA

I recently was introduced to the herb Arugula by my husband.  He was shopping in an area super market and came upon this potted live herb and knowing my interest in herb cultivation, purchased the plant. As I started to research Arugula, I discovered that information was limited.  I did, however, manage to come up with enough information to share with you.

Arugula, a tangy mustard green, also known  as Rocket, Mediterranean Salad, Rucola, Roka, Roquette in France and Gharghir in the Middle East. It is considered by many as a gourmet salad green and is served mixed with other popular greens in many fashionable restaurants throughout Europe and the United States.  
            

CHARACTERISTICS:

A tender mustard-flavored green with a slightly bitter flavor. It has very pretty pale pink, yellow or white rosette like edible flowers that  bloom in the spring and leaves that resemble the radish.  Unlike the radish, the leaves are not course in texture.  

COMMON VARIETIES:

Roquette(Eruca Vesicaria Sativa)
Arugula and Rocket.

PLANTING GUIDE:

A cool season vegetable best grown during the Spring or Fall. Plant in moist fertile soil in full sun, preferably in wide rows.  Plants will mature in approximately two months when grown from seed.  Start seed indoors, prior to April for a good crop.  Plants can be set out as soon as the frost leaves the ground.  Flea-beetles can ruin your crop if not keep under control.  Organic gardeners  use row netting, which appears to work well.




HARVEST:

Leaves should be harvested when they are young and tender.  Pick individual leaves at the stem.  Cut off leaves or flower buds as soon as they reach maturity to extend period of harvest.  Harvest lasts until about mid-June. As the days grow longer, Arugula will go to seed.  If you allow the plants to flower and go to seed, you may discover `little' plants popping up in your garden for several years.

CULINARY:
Used primarily as a salad green, however, it is often used as a substitute for watercress, in soups, stir-fries and prepared as you would spinach.  (Only use tender young leaves).  Fresh bunches of the herb can be found in local markets in early spring.

RECIPE:
Orzo With Arugula And Mushrooms
(serves four to six)
1 cup of orzo-uncooked.(rice shaped pasta).
1 T butter
1 T olive oil    
1 clove garlic-minced
1 medium red onion-chopped
1/2  lb. fresh mushrooms, cut in half
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
2 ounces of prosciutto ham, finely diced
3 cups of shredded fresh Arugula
1 t Balsamic vinegar
salt to taste and 1/2 t black pepper(freshly
ground if possible).

Heat large, heavy skillet.  Add Orzo and toast it by shaking pan until Orzo is lightly golden.  Remove from pan.  Heat butter and oil in skillet-add garlic and onion and sauté until softened.  Add mushrooms, continue cooking for three to four minutes, stirring frequently.  Add toasted Orzo and chicken stock.  Bring to a boil, cover and simmer until Orzo is tender,(about 15 minutes).  Stir in ham, Arugula and vinegar.  Heat until Arugula is wilted.  Add salt and pepper to taste.