Arugula /əˈruːɡulə/ or rocket (Eruca sativa; syns. E. vesicaria subsp. sativa (Miller) Thell., Brassica eruca L.) is an edible annual plant in the Brassicaceae family used as a leaf vegetable for its fresh peppery flavor. Other common names include garden rocket,or simply rocket (British, Australian, South African, Irish and New Zealand English),and eruca. Some additional names are “rocket salad”,”rucola”, “rucoli”, “rugula”, “colewort”, and “roquette”. Eruca sativa, which is widely popular as a salad vegetable, is a species of Eruca native to the Mediterranean region, from Morocco and Portugal in the west to Syria, Lebanon, and Turkey in the east.
Eruca sativa grows 20–100 centimetres (8–39 in) in height. The pinnate leaves have four to ten small, deep, lateral lobes and a large terminal lobe. The flowers are 2–4 cm (0.8–1.6 in) in diameter, arranged in a corymb in typical Brassicaceae fashion, with creamy white petals veined in purple, and having yellow stamens; the sepals are shed soon after the flower opens. The fruit is a siliqua (pod) 12–35 millimetres (0.5–1.4 in) long with an apical beak, and containing several seeds (which are edible). The species has a chromosome number of 2n = 22.
The Latin adjective sativa in the plant’s binomial name is derived from satum, the supine of the verb sero, meaning “to sow”, indicating that the seeds of the plant were sown in gardens. Eruca sativa differs from E. vesicaria in having early deciduous sepals. Some botanists consider it a subspecies of Eruca vesicaria: E. vesicaria subsp. sativa. Still others do not differentiate between the two.
The English common name rocket derives from the French roquette, a diminutive of the Latin word eruca, which once designated a particular plant in the Brassicaceae family (probably a type of cabbage). Arugula (/əˈruːɡələ/), the common name now widespread in the United States and Canada, entered American English from a non-standard dialect of Italian. The standard Italian word is rucola, a diminutive of the Latin “eruca”. The Oxford English Dictionary dates the first appearance of “arugula” in American English to a 1960 New York Times article by food editor and prolific cookbook writer Craig Claiborne.
It is sometimes conflated with Diplotaxis tenuifolia, known as “perennial wall rocket”, another plant of the Brassicaceae family that is used in the same manner.
Grown as an edible herb in the Mediterranean area since Roman times, it was mentioned by various classical authors as an aphrodisiac,most famously in a poem long ascribed to Virgil, Moretum, which contains the line: “et Venerem revocans eruca morantem” (“and the rocket, which revives drowsy Venus [sexual desire]”). Some writers assert that for this reason during the Middle Ages it was forbidden to grow rocket in monasteries. It was listed, however, in a decree by Charlemagne of 802 as one of the pot herbs suitable for growing in gardens. Gillian Riley, author of the Oxford Companion to Italian Food, states that because of its reputation as a sexual stimulant, it was “prudently mixed with lettuce, which was the opposite” (i.e., calming or even soporific). Riley continues that “nowadays rocket is enjoyed innocently in mixed salads, to which it adds a pleasing pungency”.
Rocket was traditionally collected in the wild or grown in home gardens along with such herbs as parsley and basil. It is now grown commercially in many places, and is available for purchase in supermarkets and farmers’ markets throughout the world. It is also naturalised as a wild plant away from its native range in temperate regions around the world, including northern Europe and North America.In India, the mature seeds are known as Gargeer. This is the same name in Arabic, جرجير (gargīr), but used in Arab countries for the fresh leaves.
Mild frost conditions hinder the plant’s growth and turn the green leaves red.
In Italy, raw rocket is often added to a pizza at the end of or just after baking. It is also used cooked in Apulia, in Southern Italy, to make the pasta dish cavatiéddi, “in which large amounts of coarsely chopped rocket are added to pasta seasoned with a homemade reduced tomato sauce and pecorino”, as well as in “many unpretentious recipes in which it is added, chopped, to sauces and cooked dishes” or in a sauce (made by frying it in olive oil and garlic) used as a condiment for cold meats and fish. In the Slovenian Littoral, it is often combined with boiled potatoes, used in a soup, or served with the cheese burek, especially in the town of Koper. It is also used with salad, tomatoes and mozzarella cheese. In Rome, Italy rucola is used with special meat dish called straccietti that are thin slices of beef with raw rocket and Parmesan cheese.
A sweet, peppery digestive alcohol called rucolino is made from rocket on the island of Ischia in the Gulf of Naples. This liqueur is a local specialty enjoyed in small quantities following a meal in the same way as a limoncello or grappa.
In Brazil and Argentina, where its use is widespread, rocket is eaten raw in salads. A popular combination is rocket mixed with mozzarella cheese (normally made out of buffalo milk) and sun-dried tomatoes.
In Cyprus, the plant is used in salads and omelettes. An omelette with rocket (Greek rokka) is common in Cypriot restaurants.
In the Gulf Countries the plant is used raw in the salads mixed with other vegetables or alone. In Eastern Saudi Arabia it is widely believed the plant has a lot of health benefits and recommended for newlywed couples.
In Egypt, the plant is commonly eaten raw as a side dish with many meals, with ful medames for breakfast, and regularly accompanies local seafood dishes.
In Turkey, similarly, the rocket is eaten raw as a side dish or salad with fish, but is additionally served with a sauce of extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice.
In West Asia and Northern India, Eruca seeds are pressed to make taramira oil, used in pickling and (after aging to remove acridity) as a salad or cooking oil. The seed cake is also used as animal feed.
10 Amazing Benefits
- As in other greens, arugula also is one of the very low-calorie vegetables. 100 g of fresh leaves hold just 25 calories. Nonetheless, it has many vital phytochemicals, anti-oxidants, vitamins, and minerals that may immensely benefit health.
- Salad rocket has the ORAC value (oxygen radical absorbance capacity, a measure of antioxidant strength) of about 1904 µmol TE per 100 grams.
- Being a member of the Brassica family, arugula greens are rich sources of certain phytochemicals such as indoles, thiocyanates, sulforaphane, and isothiocyanates. Together, these compounds have been found to counter carcinogenic effects of estrogen and thus may offer protection against prostate, breast, cervical, colon, ovarian cancers by their cancer-cell growth inhibition, cytotoxic effects on cancer cells.
- Further, Di-indolyl-methane (DIM), a lipid-soluble metabolite of indole, has the immune modulator, anti-bacterial, and anti-viral properties (by potentiating Interferon-Gamma receptors). DIM has currently been found application in the treatment of recurring respiratory papillomatosis caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and is in Phase-III clinical trials for cervical dysplasia.
- Fresh salad rocket is one of the greens rich in folates. 100 g of fresh greens contain 97 µg or 24% of folic acid. When given to the anticipant mothers during their conception time, folate may help prevent neural tube defects in the newborns.
- Like as in kale, salad rocket is an excellent source of vitamin A. 100 g fresh leaves contain 1424 µg of beta-carotene, and 2373 IU of vitamin A. Carotenes convert into vitamin-A in the body. Studies found that vitamin A and flavonoid compounds in green leafy vegetables help humans protected from skin, lung and oral cavity cancers.
- This vegetable also an excellent sources of the B-complex group of vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), and pantothenic acid those are essential for optimum cellular enzymatic and metabolic functions.
- Fresh rocket leaves contain healthy levels of vitamin-C. Vitamin-C is a powerful, natural anti-oxidant. Foods rich in this vitamin help the human body protect from scurvy disease, develop resistance against infectious agents (boosts immunity), and scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals from the body.
- Salad rocket is one of the excellent vegetable sources for vitamin-K; 100 g provides about 90% of recommended intake. Vitamin K has a potential role in bone health by promoting osteotropic (bone formation and strengthening) activity. Adequate amounts of dietary vitamin-K levels help to limit neuronal damage in the brain. It thus has an established role in the treatment of patients who have Alzheimer’s disease.
- Its leaves contain adequate levels of minerals, especially copper and iron. Also, it has small amounts of some other essential minerals and electrolytes such as calcium, iron, potassium, manganese, and phosphorus.