Although arugula wouldn’t be considered an abnormal or rare ingredient in our current culinary scene, I decided to do a feature on it for this simple reason–I love arugula! In fact, someone on Bwog caught me for my excessive use of arugula this last week asking, “Does Matt Powell throw arugula at everything?”
Well, the answer is essentially a resounding “YES!” Originating from the Mediterranean, arugula is my favorite green with its strong peppery flavor. Spinach and lettuce step aside. The other salad ingredients pale in comparison when coupled with arugula. I first discovered my love of arugula a couple years ago, and now, I even take it so far to simply have arugula salads with a good olive oil, maybe a bit of smoked salt on top.
However, whenever I go to West Side Market, I’m met with a small dilemma. The market offers 3 different types of arugula: Uncle Vinny’s, Organic Valley, and the West Side house-packed arugula (This is the one that looks like it’s in a John Jay to-go plastic container.). The question remains: which arugula is best?
I decided to put the arugulas to a good ol’ science project. Purchasing all three brands, I subjected each brand to a taste test and a longevity test. After tasting each brand, I found that the Uncle Vinny’s brand had a stronger pepper flavor while the Organic Valley had a noticeably fresher taste (no surprise there, I suppose). The West Side house brand was a good last-resort, but it didn’t measure up to the other 2. In terms of the taste test, I decided that I liked the Uncle Vinny’s brand the best.
Next came the longevity test. I stuck the 3 plastic containers on the same shelf of my fridge, and I observed the arugula as the days passed. The West Side brand was the first to go. By mid-week (I do my shopping on Sundays.), the arugula was starting to seriously wilt and there was a ton of condensation on the container. The Organic Valley was soon to follow after another two days. This brand also started to give off an unpleasant odor. Tasting the Organic Valley after 5 days, it had lost the peppery notes and it was reduced to a bland, watery flavor. The best for longevity turned out to be the Uncle Vinny’s arugula. I was able to use the arugula well into the next week, without sacrificing taste.
For arugula recipes, just take a look at the different pictures. Ideas abound!