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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Garden to Table: Cooked Arugula

Jessica Walliser
Hobby Farms Contributor

Cook arugula in a sauce with basil and add to pasta. Photo by Jessica Walliser (HobbyFarms.com)
Photo by Jessica Walliser
I once found argula to be unpalatable, but I can now love this garden green! All it needs is a little time on the stove.

I am not a fan of arugula. It’s too bitter for my liking, and I don't find its spiciness as pleasant as everyone else does. Trust me, I have tried eating it many times and in many ways. I have mixed it into spring salads, tried it in an orzo salad recipe, bought it as packaged baby greens from the store, and even ate it fresh out of a friend's garden. I didn't like any of it. I even grew it myself one year but couldn't bring myself to eat more than a bite. My husband likes it, though, so I mixed it into his salads that spring without feeling like growing it was a waste of garden space.

This year, though, I hit the jackpot and found a way I actually enjoy eating arugula. Cooked! I planted a few seeds of a new variety called Wasabi from Renee's Garden Seeds very early this spring. It's supposed to be super spicy, and while I didn't like the taste of it raw, I loved it cooked! I was talking to a chef friend about my dislike of the green and he told me to try it cooked, so I came up with this recipe and loved every bite!

For the sauce: In a large saucepan, melt 6 tablespoons butter. Then whisk in 6 T. all-purpose flour. Cook on low for a few minutes then toss in 1/4 cup chopped fresh scallions. It will get thick. Then slowly add 3 cups milk, stirring the whole time. Cook for 5 more minutes, whisking occasionally. Then add 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese and about 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil. Then add about 3 cups fresh arugula and continue to cook for a few more minutes until the arugula is fully wilted. 

Pour the sauce over freshly cooked and drained pasta, toss to mix, and top it with a few cherry tomato halves and a sprinkling of paprika. You also might need to add some salt and pepper to season. If you want to add some protein, you could brown some loose Italian sausage and add that, as well. 

I can't wait to try some more arugula recipes over the coming weeks. But I can guarantee you, there will be cooking involved in each and every one of them! What are your favorite ways to cook arugula? Maybe I’ll give them a try, too!

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