Vibrant green leaves are lobed and can be harvested when young and mild in flavor or when fully mature at 3 or 4 inches in length. Young leaves are peppery with nuances of nuts and mustard, however should leaves be allowed to mature too long on the plant they will become bitter in taste.
In the culinary world arugula is used as an herb, a salad green and even a leaf vegetable, making it a versatile ingredient in the kitchen. It can be used both raw and cooked, though cooking will give the leaves a milder flavor. Add to raw pesto and sauces to showcase its pungency. Use as a leafy bed for grilled seafood. Chop and sprinkle atop pizza and pasta just before serving. Combine with other greens to spice up a salad. Add whole leaves to grilled cheese sandwiches or a BLT. Use in lieu of spinach in omelets and quiche. The sharp flavor of arugula pairs well with citrus, roasted beets, pears, pine nuts, olives, tomato and robust cheeses such as goat, blue and Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Arugula thrives in moderate to cool climates - too much heat will cause it to bolt and impart a bitter flavor on the leaves. It can grow on dry land and wet soil alike.
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