Sunday, September 21, 2008

Rocket Time!

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.


27Susans said...

Great post. I love arugula by any name. I posted about my arugula, tomato & mango salad a few weeks ago. I sometimes use balsamic vinegar -no oil- as dressing. Have you tried stilton with bits of apricot in it? Nice sweet contrast to the bite of the leaves. I like parmesan too.
I guess I better bake those chocolate cookies from last week. You've got great photos on your site.

Cathy said...

Oh, this is totally my kind of side dish! I love how our English friends call this rocket. I laughed when there was a silly little scuttlebutt early in campaign season about "the price of arugula at Wholefoods," and I thought then what I think now -- SURELY no matter where we fall on the political spectrum, we can all agree that arugula is one MIGHTY fine little leaf.

La Bella Cooks said...

I love rocket and use it quite often in salads, sandwiches and basically whatever I can try it on! Good luck with your own plant.

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