Introducing Arugula!

arugula

Luscious arugula is a well-known vegetable in California cuisine. We find it in salads routinely and it is always available in our produce sections, mainstream and health food stores alike. Being a huge fan it was an easy decision to add to my modest vege garden, not quite knowing what to expect, as is the case each time we try a new vegetable or fruit in our garden–one of the primary reasons we probably continue to grow things at all, right? We are always learning new things. And, out of that hesitancy, I bolted at the thought of seeds and started, then, with some small healthy starter plants I bought from a lovely German farmer at the local farmer’s market. Had I known then what I know now I would have readily started with seed. I haven’t looked it up on Dave’s Garden or elsewhere, but I’m here to tell you, it’s aggressive. First it’s hearty. And secondly the seeds just abound. They are of the We Have a Mind of Our Own Variety and they show up everywhere. (Let’s just get this out of the way.) Cases in point. They are in my petunia hanging baskets; they are in my lavender, which I apparently created simply washing the sidewalk that separates the veges from the Other Plants. Hearty creatures. Think abundant little determined sperms just dying to create new life. Some ended up in my alyssum pot. I have no idea how. And they took over. I now have a winter arugula pot, lending green life to a very still life backyard. Here it is, naughty, naughty:

arugula pot

As if I needed it. The very best part (so here is the Good News!) is that I now have arugula ALL YEAR LONG! This is heaven to my palate. I adore arugula. My body adores arugula. And, basically, at this point, it’s free. All I can eat, for free. Does that not sound like a deal? Yummy yummy arugula.

So what is it anyway? It’s formal name is Eruca sativa, a species of eruca, native to the Mediterranean region. The British call it rocket, and it is also known as garden rocket and rocketsalad, where it is most often found. It is very rich in vitamin C and iron. I munch on it while I’m playing ball with the Border Collies now and then, just knowing I’m doing myself a nice favor and I love the unexpected peppery taste! And I routinely mound it onto nearly any and every sandwich I prepare.

Apparently it’s been grown since Roman times and they regarded it as an aphrodisiac. (Who knew?) The Italians add it to pasta dishes and pizza, adding towards the end of the cooking and baking processes so that it might wilt. But another place it is used is as an alternative to basil in pesto, though substituting walnuts for the pinenuts. I’m not that fond of walnuts so I tried the following:

Arugula Pesto

2 cups fresh arugula leaves
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons pine nuts
3 garlic cloves

Now, if you are a left brain person, add the above ingredients to a food processor a little at a time until all is blended. If you are a right brain person
put all the above in a processor and hit blend. I’ve tried it both ways and I could find no appreciable difference. You can put a teeny tiny bit of European fine salt in there if you want to, but the parmesan is pretty salty, so that might just be enough. One thing you will notice is the exquisitely rich, vibrant green color! It just exudes life, clearly a clue to its properties. Now heat, and put on some lovely pasta, garnished with a bit more parmesan to taste. Maybe serve up with a nice baked acorn squash?

Yum! So good on a winter’s eve!

If you have not yet tried arugula in your gardens yet, I hope you will be inspired to try. I predict it will become a regular in your palette.

Hugs,
Kathryn xoxox
Postscript: These pansies are insisting on being part of this wet and wintry post. What to do?
winter pansies

9 Responses to “Introducing Arugula!”

  1. Thank you for the introduction to arugula! Can’t wait to try the yummy recipe!

  2. I love your blog title and your blog layout. Years ago, I grew Arugula and loved it. I don’t know why I haven’t grown it since. It is rare here at this time of year, except in bagged salad mixes.

    Your pansies look as if they are having a wonderful time! Lucky you to have them growing outdoors.

  3. Hi, Kate! Thank you for visiting! I’ve seen your name on blotanicals and will go check out your blog! I’m glad I’ve put arugula back on your radar. And if you go back into my blog you will find a post on pansies in winter. (I learned of their winter-resistance in NC!) Try them! (Where are you??) Kathryn

  4. Hah! Love the comment about right and left brained pesto-making. (I’m right brained/left handed.) and those dear little pansies…brave souls, aren’t they? Small wonder they’re also called heartsease…they make me happy to see them.

  5. Kathryn,

    Great post! I love arugula, but my family thinks it’s icky. Silly them. The photo of the pansies is filled with such great color. Good job!

  6. Hi, Jodi! Welcome back! I had to google heartsease; I’d not heard of that before. And wouldn’t you know it? Wending its way through the arugula is an abundance of precisely that–little purple Johnny Jump Ups! They jumped the same sidewalk that the arugula jumped in the other direction! Destined to live together. I treasure them as they are largely hidden and peek through like little fairy flowers all year long. I’ll send you a photo this summer! Kathryn xox

  7. Hi, Dee! Try smuggling a bit of arugula into their sammys. :) And, yes, those pansies are helping me to keep going! Thanks for stopping by! Love, Kathryn

  8. hello Kathryn:I love arugula.they are every were in may back yard.I going to make your arugula pasto.thanks.

  9. Welcome, Enrique, I love it, too! And my backyard is also full of it. Lucky us! Kathryn

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