Sunday, September 21, 2008
On my first visit to London, I noticed that the English seem to be mildly obsessed with rocket, their catchy name for arugula. It is on the menu at nearly every restaurant in the city. For a fixed price pre-theatre dinner at Portrait, the restaurant at the National Portrait Gallery, I had an arugula salad and pasta with arugula (we had a choice between two dishes for each course) and both were fantastic.
But it wasn't until my husband and I vacationed in Berlin a year ago that I began to be preoccupied with arugula myself. We ate at Italian restaurants for at least 5 meals and I had a "rucola" salad each time. Upon our return home I found myself craving this peppery-flavored green.
I try to always have a stash of arugula/rocket/rucola/roquette in the fridge, and I make an arugula salad at least once a week. My method is simple: toss the arugula with a bit of my best olive oil - just enough to coat the leaves. Pile on a plate, top with shaved parmesan cheese and halved cherry tomatoes. I find that the sweetness of the cherry tomatoes pairs very well with the sharp pepper flavor of the arugula. The parmesan provides a nutty/salty presence. You can add salt and pepper to taste, and even some chopped garlic.
Sometimes I omit the olive oil, when I'm being really virtuous (not lately, however!) and it tastes almost as good. But mind you, I am one that really doesn't mind eating my salads without dressing.
This salad makes a great accompaniment to any Italian dish. We always have this when we eat pasta. This evening I used the last of the cherry tomatoes that a friend gave us from her garden.
I've ordered some arugula plants from my farm box folks, and I'll see how/if I can keep it alive indoors this winter. I'd imagine it won't be prolific enough for salad, but maybe for sandwiches and pasta and garnish.