It’s difficult for me to get excited about eating lettuce, even when it is properly dressed. But peppery arugula always elicits a smile. Its flavor is so distinct and intense that I enjoy eating it alone without any adornment.
Eruca sativa grows wild from Morocco to central Asia. In India, its seeds are pressed into an oil used for culinary, medicinal, and cosmetic purposes. In Europe, it was first cultivated by the ancient Greeks and Romans. In the past 20 years, arugula has become quite trendy as a salad green outside of Italian cuisine.
This member of the mustard family (Brassicacae) is very easy to grow in containers. After the seeds germinate, 2 round cotyledons form, giving it the appearance of a four-leaf clover. Arugula leaves grow quickly. Left to its own devices, the plant will form flowers and then pods which contain seeds. I have a few flowers with pods forming already. Though I still have a stash of arugula seeds, I think I’ll try to save seeds this year.
When traveling, I am always on the lookout for intriguingly flavored alcoholic beverages as a culinary souvenir. Bottles of rue-flavored grappa, ratafia, and génépi have made their way into my cupboard in this fashion. Someday I would like to visit the Italian island of Ischia. After my time communing with the Mediterranean runs out and it is time to return home, I will bring back with me a bottle of rucolino, a digestif made of arugula. I will savor it slowly, in small sips, and its taste will remind me of the sea.
200 g (1 cup) dried white beans
1 bunch of arugula
1 Tbs fresh rosemary
3 cloves of garlic
2 Tbs olive oil
¼ – ½ tsp salt to taste
Cook the beans until tender. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a food processor or blender. Serve with bread, crackers, or raw vegetables.
I wish you much aruguluck until next time!