Sunday, April 3, 2011

Arugula- in season in April and just divine

I never really had a real understanding of how good arugula could be until my husband and I traveled to Italy almost 7 years ago. We stayed in this gorgeous bed and breakfast called Relais San Pietro in Polvano. It was on top of a hill, 20 minutes outside of Cortona and overlooking a stunning Tuscan valley. They grew their own olives and countless other vegetables, fruits, flowers and herbs. There were also fragrant rosemary bushes everywhere. We always ate breakfast (which consisted of a daily fritatta, various amazing cheeses, fruit and yogurt) there before our daily excursions and indulged in several of their dinners which took place outside, under soft candlelight overlooking the valley. I mean, it was just amazing. It was at that dinner that I fell in love with their fresh arugula. I have always admired Italian cooking for their love of good quality, simple foods and this is a perfect example. They served it only with a perfect balsamic vinegar (from Modena I'm sure) and with shaved parmesan. To make this simple salad work, the ingredients all have to be really good. Especially the cheese- sharp and a little nutty and shaved on to the salad. This was the most amazing salad I have ever had and from then on, I became an arugula lover!

I've listed one of my favorite arugula recipes from Martha Stewart (found here) and links to a few others.

I also love arugula pesto. This recipe from Gourmet, found here, is simple and really good. You can substitute the pecans for walnuts also. And doesn't this sound amazing? Arugula and fava bean crostini! Click here. And better yet arugula is a great source of bioflavonoids and vitamin A, which is known to help build immunity. It also has potassium which is good for muscles and can prevent muscle cramps. And most people don't know this, but arugula also has calcium, about 32 mg of calcium per one cup. The body absorbs calcium in arugula (along with kale and broccoli) more readily than from milk according to They also say that "for those cutting back on milk-based dairy products, this makes arugula a very nice vegan source of calcium."

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