Two days ago, I broadcast arugula seeds around and about my garden, in the pole bean circle, in front of the tomatoes and bell pepper rows, a few more in some pots just so I could have plenty. I kept the seedlings moist and today they were already showing green sprouts. Quick thrills for the gardener! After that, they require only intermittent watering to thrive and multiply throughout the summer and into the fall. And, they generously reseed without becoming invasive. As they grow, their white, purple-tinged, edible flowers peek out and around the various other plants they have been sown among, making a midsummer garden bouquet in unexpected places.
Arugula has long been familiar in European cooking from Italy to England (where it is called rocket). But in America it remained under the radar until about the 1980s, when it soared from virtually unknown to one of the queens of the herbal leafy greens, like basil and parsley, except arugula segues more easily from herb to salad green. In my kitchen I use arugula as sprouts, leaves, and flowers. In all those stages, their taste is both nutty and radishy and somehow they svelty blend together when chewed. The sprouts and flower petals are for a micro-green garnish in place of cilantro or parsley. The leaves are for a spiky salad all on their own or to bed heirloom tomatoes, or for an arugula pesto that challenges basil for top honors in the category.
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 packed cup arugula leaves
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1. Pulverize the pine nuts in a food processor. 2. Add the arugula and process until very finely chopped. Add the oil and process until thoroughly blended. Add the cheese and salt and process until blended in. Use right away, or store in the refrigerator for up to overnight, not longer or the pesto will lose its fresh look and sprightly taste.