Picking Fresh, Peppery Arugula
Shree Rawal moved from Boulder, Colo., to Kaua’i in 2008 to work as a pharmacist (or farm-assist, as farm worker Christina Lagdameo-Romano calls him). Rawal established Govinda Farm in 2011 after attending a six-week organic farming course at Kaua’i Community College.
Located in Moloa’a, the farm began with 5 acres and now has 7. Govinda Farm cultivates 3.5-acres organically and is working toward USDA organic certification.
“We are in one of the most beautiful places on earth and it’s abundant,” says Rawal, who wondered why Kaua’i imports so much food. “I thought, ‘how can I reach out to the community?'”
Since the North Shore is saturated with organic farms, Rawal and his team decided to service the Lihue area. Every Friday, Christina and Vajra Lagdameo-Romano go to The Feral Pig and distribute Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) boxes of just harvested produce.
“When you meet Shree, Christina and Vajra, and taste the vegetables coming out of Govinda Farm, it’s pretty obvious you want to do whatever you can to help them get their vegetables to more people,” says Dave Power, The Feral Pig co-owner and bartender.
What’s growing now: Arugula, avocado, banana, basil (Italian, lemon) beets, carrots, chard (Swiss, rainbow), cilantro, collard greens, eggplant, ginger, green beans, kale, lemon cucumber, lettuce (curly green, magenta) loofah, marjoram, mint, okra, onion (red, scallions), oregano, parsley (curly, Italian), papaya, radish, sage, spinach, thyme, tomatoes, turnips.
Also called rocket or roquette, arugula is high in beta-carotene and higher in vitamin C than most greens. It used to only be available in Italian markets but is now widely available. Small, flat leaves on long stems are peppery in flavor and aroma. The more mature the green (the larger the leaves) the more pungent it is. Similar in flavor to horseradish, summer arugula is very sharp and a small taste will help you determine how much you want to use. The cruciferous vegetable has plenty of personality, expressed by its bite. Those who come across arugula either love it or hate it. Fans appreciate the strong flavor and enjoy entire salads made from it. I like to toss it with extra virgin olive oil, Hawaiian sea salt, fresh ground pepper and Parmesan cheese and serve it over freshly baked flatbread.
Season: It takes 35 days from seed to table and arugula can be grown year-round on Kaua’i.
What to look for: Arugula is typically sold in bunches. Look for perky green leaves that are free of yellow spots. Sometimes they are sold with the root still attached to ensure freshness.
Storage: Store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to three days.
Tip: Arugula can be eaten raw and when cooked, the strong flavor is reduced.
Preparation: Pungent olives, hard-cooked eggs, grilled onions, fresh figs and salty cheese all form happy alliances with arugula. Vinaigrettes featuring extra virgin olive, walnut or hazelnut oils are a good match for arugula’s spicy flavor, as are lemon juice or sherry vinegar.
Health benefits: In terms of conventional nutrients (vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbohydrates and fats), no other vegetable group is as high in vitamin A carotenoids, vitamin C, folic acid, and fiber as the cruciferous vegetables. As a group, the cruciferous vegetables are superstars in these nutrient areas.
Govinda Farm’s produce can be found at: Farmers Market: Hanalei (Saturdays 9:30 a.m. to noon)
Restaurants: Coconut Cup Juice Bar & Cafe, Monico’s Taqueria, Shivalik, The Feral Pig. Grocery: Hoku Natural Foods, Papaya’s Natural Foods & Cafe, Harvest Market. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org. There is a waiting list for CSA membership.
CAS’S ARUGULA LOVE
Cas Schwabe, owner of Akamai Juice Co., shares her recipe for a nutritious juice she calls Arugula Love. The spicy drink is a fabulous way to start the day and makes a healthy afternoon snack.
Makes two servings.
* 1 bunch arugula
* 1/2 bunch dandelion greens
* 4 medium tomatoes
* 1/2 cucumber
* 4 celery stalks
* 1/2 medium-size beet
* 1 clove garlic, peeled
* 1 lemon, peel and pith removed
* 1 inch ginger
* 1 inch turmeric
Clean and chop produce into 2-inch chunks. Combine all ingredients in a blender and process until thick and smooth. Refrigerate for three hours, until cool. Serve.
Marta Lane is a Kaua’i-based food writer. For more information, visit TastingKauai.com.