If you love to prepare salads, arugula is one of the most nutritious ingredients. The herb that originates in the Mediterranean area is also known as roquette or Italian cress. It is a leafy green herb that belongs to the cabbage family. This ancient herbs dates back to the Roman era. On the ground, the herb resembles lettuce with elongated, slender, dark green leaves. The herb has a pungent smell and slightly bitter, peppery flavor. However, the younger leaves of the herb aren’t as sharp in taste as the mature leaves.
Various beneficial nutrients are found in roquette albeit in small portions. The low fat, low cholesterol food is a good source of protein. It contains vitamins, A, B, C and K. A diversified mineral content is also found in the herb. These include iron, calcium, phosphorous, potassium, magnesium, manganese, zinc and copper.
The herb is widely recognized as a potent anti-cancer food. This is because of the varied content of vitamins and minerals. When this green is integrated in the diet as a regular item, it can help prevent most forms of cancer. Research has repeatedly established the role of cruciferous vegetables in disease prevention. The herb contains various phytochemicals, which play a vital antioxidant role in the body. They help to rid the body of toxins and carcinogens which are responsible for the development of many diseases and cancers.
Phytochemicals improve inter-cellular activity and communication. This enhances cellular functions and productivity. These potent agents also help to protect the skin from the effects of ultraviolet rays. Other functions of phytonutrients are to cleanse the blood, improve distribution of oxygen in the blood, boost energy levels and support good skin health.
It is best to retain the roots and fibrous stems until ready to use. This helps to preserve freshness. Be sure to wash the leaves thoroughly because soil and grit tend to collect amongst the leaves. For maximum nutritional benefits, it is best to eat the vegetable in its raw form. This is because heat tends to destroy most of the nutrients. Mix with other vegetables to make a fresh, tasty, healthy salad. The full flavor of the herb is sure to enhance any salad recipe. You can also use it as one of the vegetable ingredients in sandwiches. The herb can be cooked although briefly. This will ensure that most of the delicate nutrients are retained in the food. You can steam or have them sautéed lightly in olive oil. The herb can also be added as a final ingredient in soups or stews. Just a bit of it goes a long way to enhance the food flavor.
This highly perishable herb should be consumed quickly, as it doesn’t keep well in the refrigerator. Wrap the roots with a wet paper towel and place in a perforated plastic bag. This will preserve it for a couple of days. You could also stand the plant in a glass of water. Be sure to change the water daily.