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Iceberg lettuce has long been displaced by such flavorful greens as arugula. Now there's a slew of different arugulas. Some to try: Micro arugula, with tiny leaves that resemble sprouts, can be used like an herb. The tender 2- to 3-inch leaves of baby arugula are the best choice for salads. Regular arugula, which has leaves that measure 4 inches long or more, is delicious wilted in warm salads. Sylvetta, or wild arugula, is similar to regular arugula but has a sharper flavor. These varieties are available at specialty shops and farmers' markets, as well as by mail order (seasonally) from Indian Rock Produce (800-882-0512).

Growing Arugula

Even if your tomatoes get black spot and your zucchini plants never fruit, you can still grow arugula. This resilient green, which thrives on windowsills or in rich garden soil, needs only three hours of direct sunlight each day. When harvesting, pinch off the outer leaves and ignore the center ones—arugula can produce greens continuously from April through October. Once a plant flowers, leaf production drops, but the flowers can be used in salads or as a garnish. Contact Shepherd's Garden Seeds (www.shepherdseeds.com) for more information.

Arugula & Health

Arugula looks like a kind of lettuce, but it is a cruciferous vegetable in the same family as broccoli and cauliflower. Like its cousins, it has many of the same potent health benefits. Arugula is rich in phytonutrients, which may reduce the risk of several kinds of cancer, including breast, stomach and colon. It also contains small but helpful quantities of other compounds: One cup delivers 5 percent of the RDA for vitamin C and 3 percent of the RDA for calcium—and contains just 5 calories.
A. Jacqueline Lombard

Published April 2003
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