Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Garden Treasure with 4 Recipes for Arugula: with Eggs, in Salads, and in Pasta Sauce (4 Συνταγές για Ρόκα)

Arugula SelveticaArugula (also known as Roka, Roquette, and Rocket) wins my garden’s miracle plant of the year award.

We’ve grown arugula often over the years. We usually get a salad or two before it bolts; a common problem in Alaska. With our long days, nearly 20 hours of daylight at the solstice, many herbs and green vegetables go to seed prematurely.

Despite its tendency to bolt, we grow arugula because we enjoy its bite in salads. Last year, the arugula followed its typical pattern: two salads at the beginning of summer and it bolted. I assumed that was it. I was wrong.

This spring, after the snow melted, we noticed radicchio we’d harvested last year, but hadn’t pulled up, coming back. In the same bed, mystery plants were emerging; they had tiny green leaves growing around slender dead stalks.

We had no idea what they were (I guessed domesticated Italian dandelions we grew last year in the same bed), but let them grow so we could find out. As the plants grew larger, I realized last year’s arugula had wintered over.

I was initially confused, as I’d thought arugula was an annual (Eruca vesicaria subspecies sativa). Although I'd only grown annual arugula, it turns out “arugula,” actually refers to three separate plants: E. vesicaria ssp. sativa, Diplotaxis tenuifolia, and Diplotaxis muralis.

Last year we planted arugula seeds brought back from Greece. When I dug out the seed packet, I discovered it was Diplotaxis tenuifola, also known as wild arugula or Selvetica, an extremely cold hardy perennial (as plants must be to survive Alaskan winters). I’m thrilled to have stumbled upon it, and will give it a permanent place in my garden.

Arugula in the GardenMost commonly I use arugula in mixed green salads, or on its own with blue cheese and best quality balsamic vinegar. This year the arugula was so prolific I branched out. Arugula, briefly sautéed with shallots, adds a nice bite to omelets and frittatas. Mixed with tomatoes and anchovies, it makes a delicious pasta sauce.

My mother, upon hearing of my arugula glut, recommended the wonderful Arugula and Tomato Salad from Carol Field’s
In Nonna’s Kitchen: Recipes and Traditions from Italy’s Grandmothers. Mother was right; arugula goes really well with tomatoes.

Anchovies are the secret ingredient that makes both the salad and pasta sauce special. When minced and incorporated into other ingredients, anchovies add flavor without overwhelming the taste buds.

More Arugula Recipes:
Grilled Radicchio and Arugula Salad with Parmesan Shavings
Watermelon, Feta, and Arugula Salad

Arugula and Eggs
Arugula and Eggs
Serves 2 – 4

4 large eggs
1 cup diced shallots, 1/4” dice
Freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. olive oil
4 packed cups cleaned arugula
3/4 grated kasseri or fontina cheese
1/4 cup minced chives

Crack the eggs in a bowl, season lightly with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and whisk to combine.

Sauté the shallots, lightly seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper, in olive oil until they soften and start to turn golden. Add the arugula, in batches if necessary, and cook just until all the arugula has wilted.

Evenly distribute the arugula in the pan and pour the eggs over. Cover and turn the heat down to low. Keep checking the eggs and when they’re almost-but-not-quite set, sprinkle the cheese and minced chives over, cover, and cook until the cheese melts.

Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper, cut into wedges, and serve.

Arugula and Tomato Salad
Arugula and Tomato Salad
Serves 4

Adapted from In Nonna’s Kitchen: Recipes and Traditions from Italy’s Grandmothers by Carol Field (HarperCollins 1997)
Lightly salting the tomatoes helps bring out their flavor, but be careful not to overdo as anchovies can be quite salty. I made this with the smaller amount of anchovies, but we both thought it would benefit from more; next time I’ll use the larger amount. I originally made this with whole anchovies, as shown in the picture, but we prefer the salad when the anchovies are minced in the dressing. Either way, it's tasty.

8 medium tomatoes, sliced 1/2” thick
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper
8 - 16 anchovy fillets (1 - 2 ounces)
2 cups thinly cut shreds of arugula

Divide the tomato slices between 4 salad plates and salt lightly. Whisk the olive oil into the red wine vinegar and season with freshly ground black pepper. Mince the anchovy fillets and mix them into the dressing. Taste and add freshly ground black pepper or salt as needed. Toss the dressing and arugula (there may be leftover dressing), and mound on the tomatoes. Serve immediately.

Arugula, Blue Cheese, and Balsamic Salad
Arugula, Blue Cheese, and Balsamic Salad
Serves 4

I never tire of this tasty salad. Because there are so few ingredients, it’s important to use best quality balsamic vinegar.

4 packed cups arugula
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/4 crumbled Roquefort or other blue cheese
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. best quality balsamic vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper

Wash and dry the arugula and tear large leaves into pieces. Add the arugula, red onion, and half the blue cheese to a salad bowl. Whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Toss the dressing with the salad ingredients. Taste and add more balsamic vinegar, if needed. Sprinkle with the remaining blue cheese, grate freshly ground black pepper over the salad, and serve.

Arugula, Anchovy, and Tomato with OrecchietteArugula, Anchovy, and Tomato Sauce with Orecchiette
Serves 4
This recipe calls for a large quantity of arugula, which I measured after it had been cleaned and roughly chopped. If you don’t have arugula, dandelions or other wild greens are the best substitute; the dish may also be made with radicchio, Swiss chard or spinach. Toast the pine nuts in a 350°F oven or dry frying pan. In either case, pine nuts burn easily and must be watched carefully as they cook. Onions cook more evenly when lightly salted before sautéing, however, anchovies are salty so be sure not to over-salt the onions.

1/2 pound dried
orecchiette or any other pasta
2 cups diced onion, 1/2” dice
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
16 anchovy fillets (2 ounces)
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. Aleppo pepper or 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/2 pound cleaned and roughly chopped arugula or other strong-flavored greens
2 cups diced fresh tomato, 3/4” dice
1/3 cup water
1 cup chopped green onions
3/4 - 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

Cook the pasta in boiling, salted water and cook until it is al dente. Drain the pasta and toss with a little olive oil.

Sauté the onions, lightly seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper, in olive oil until they soften and start to turn golden. Add the anchovies, garlic, and Aleppo pepper and cook for one minute. Stir in the arugula, tomatoes, and water, and cook for 3 minutes. Add the cooked pasta and green onions, and cook just until the pasta is warmed through. Toss with 1/2 cup cheese and half the pine nuts. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and pine nuts and serve immediately.

This is my entry for Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted this week by Kelly from Sounding My Barbaric Gulp.


Peter M said...

Laurie,a clever "quatro-posto"...not one of the dishes has salt in it - instead each recipe uses an ingredient with ample salt in it...clever.

However, you listed Fontina as a suitable sub for Kasseri...the aged Fontina is closer, no?

Also, mom's know best, eh?

Hunter Angler Gardener Cook said...

Ha! That is wild arugula, an extremely hardy perennial that, if cut back in hot weather, will give you several years of fun! I love, love, love the stuff, but can only actually eat it in winter here in California. I bought some seed from Italy a few years back and now my garden is overrun with the stuff now, but it'll take the paint off your car it's so sharp right now...


since i've been food blogging, i've read up on so many ways to use arugula (rocket is one of my 'pot plants'!), and id have to say, rocket with the thinnest slices of salty cheese (graviera, roquefort, parmesan) and balsamic is my favorite use of this nutty, crunchy, spicy herb

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

I was going to ask whether arugula self-seeds, but thanks to the comment above, I already have the answer. I've been thinking for several years about putting in a small patch of greens in my garden, but the deer and rabbits would probably get to it long before I did. (They love the sorrel that comes up every year and usually leave me not one single leaf!)

Peter G said...

Four recipes are better than one Laurie. Each one is perfect and you've certainly showcased what this wonderful ingredient can do.

Kalyn said...

Great collection of ideas for using arugula. I've had similar problems with growing the annual version here. Have to look for this type.

[eatingclub] vancouver || js said...

Great collection of arugula recipes. I so often run out of arugula ideas and sometimes eat it just by itself. I think I love the arugula and tomato and anchovy the best.

Paula said...

What a great collection of recipes. That egg dish looks really tasty as does the salad with the anchovies. Yum!


we recently saw a documentary on alaska - it told us the same things you tell me about summer there: everything grows so quickly it turns seedy before you've had your fill of it.

Cheryl said...

I love arugula. I don't know if you remember my winter garden post, but I was pleasantly surprised when I found out that I had it growing in the back-and a lot of it. I used it in salads mostly but I did make an arugula pesto a few times. (recipe I found online)
I love these recipes that you've posted, I'll keep this page book marked for winter, what great ideas!

maybelles parents said...

oh, i adore arugula and these are great uses.

Núria said...

Laurieeeeeeee!!!! Once you start you cannot stop ;D. Wow, which one could I pick first? Not the cheese one, but the rest look heavenly... I should buy some rocket first, though!

Wanna party? Come for a drink in my blog guapa!

Laurie Constantino said...

Peter M, "quatro posto" - I like it! As for kasseri and fontina, I like the melting quality of both, but really any cheese you like can be used in this dish.

Hank, you are assuming we ever have hot enough weather here to get that sharp flavor you're talking about. Not this year!

Maria, oh queen of the pot plants, I agree completely - my favorite way is with blue cheese and balsamic.

Lydia, mine didn't self seed but in your weather they no doubt will. As for fencing, we need to do it against the moose or we would not have a single plant left in our garden.

Peter G, I don't know about the recipes being perfect, but they sure do taste good.

Kalyn, you really should try it - we've been eating it for weeks and it still hasn't gone to seed.

Eatingclub, you should definitely try the tomato and anchovy recipe - it's SO GOOD.

Paula, thank you!

Maria, but did they tell you about our giant cabbages?? The record is a single cabbage that weighed over 105 pounds!

Cheryl, I do remember your winter garden post (and also your more recent garden bounty). Thank you for reminding me about arugula pesto - I've been meaning to try it.

Thank you, maybelles parents!

Nuria, better pick one that doesn't require cooking!! I dropped by your party and really had a great time - thanks for the invite!

Bijoux said...

All of those arugula dishes look delicious. I especially like the addition of the anchovies in some of them. I often mince canned anchovies and add them to a tomato sauce with amazing results. The added saltiness of the anchovy works so well with the pasta...the funny thing is that you can fool someone who dislikes anchovies into eating the pasta without a mere hint that there is fish in the sauce LOL!

manju said...

What a nice surprise to find in one's garden! You've certainly enjoyed your unexpected bounty in delicious ways -- the eggs are our favorites, too!

Natashya said...

I love how you give an ingredient the full treatment!
It all looks so good, especially the last dish. I love pasta and I love anchovies.

Ning said...

I love arugulas, but it is not easy to find good fresh ones here in this tropical country...