Arugula / Rocket
[Arugula (North America, Australia); Rocket (England); Oruga, Arugula, Rucula (Spanish); Rucola, Ruchetta (Italian); Roquette (French); Eruca sativa (mustard family)]
This popular salad green of Mediterranean origin has been used since at least Roman times. Almost unknown in the U.S. a decade ago it is today the "must have" green for yuppie salads, so supermarkets stock pre-cut and washed bags of "baby" arugula. The leaves are small and tender but have a distinctly mustardy bite, backed by an unusually complex flavor.
Some varieties have leaves less deeply cut than the photo specimen and
the leaves are very deeply cut on the wild version. In Italy Arugula is
used in soups, but cooked it looses almost all its flavor. The term
"Rocket" is also loosely used for a number of other peppery herbs.
Buying: This herb is now common in markets and farmers markets serving the yuppie class, and also in many supermarkets in reasonably affluent neighborhoods. Note: The largest and most beautiful Arugula I have seen I purchased from Whole Foods Market in Glendale CA. It was all but unusable, totally lacking in flavor or any redeeming cultural value.
Storing: Refrigerate loosely wrapped. This is a very perishable herb and will start to turn yellow in just a couple of days.
Cooking: Don't - use it raw in salads - it looses nearly all flavor and becomes mushy when cooked (though some ethnic recipes do call for it cooked).