Archive for Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Delicious/Nutritious: All-purpose arugula

May 14, 2014

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Pungent, spicy, delicate and fresh, arugula is a “grown-up” ingredient if there ever were one. But it’s also delicious and versatile, perfect for pepping up almost any spring dish.

Delicious

Arugula is my favorite of the lettuces. It’s a little spicy and a lot more exciting than its leafy counterparts. It’s versatile, seems a little fancy, and I use it often to jazz up what could be an otherwise hum-drum salad or side dish.

One of my favorite things to do with arugula is dump it on a pizza. That’s right. Sprinkle it liberally all over the top of that bad boy. You won’t regret it.

Barnyard pizza

Barnyard pizza

You really can do this with pretty much any pizza, but I particularly like it with pizzas that aren’t laden with a lot of heavy red sauce. I often do pizzas that are heavy on olive oil and herbs, and easy on cheese and sauce. These, in particular, are a nice palette for some arugula. It assuages the guilt about pizza. It’s not just a pizza, you tell yourself. It’s a salad too!

This particular number is one of my personal faves because it serves as breakfast, lunch or dinner. I call it “The Barnyard.”

The Barnyard Pizza

For the crust:

4 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

1 1/2 cups warm water

3 tablespoons sugar (can sub honey here)

1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for bowl and brushing

2 teaspoons kosher salt

4 cups whole wheat flour

In your mixing bowl, pour the water and the yeast. Give it about 5 minutes to “proof,” or get bubbly (and prove to you that it’s working).

Then add the sugar, salt and olive oil and whisk together.

Gradually add the flour and mix with your hands or a dough hook on your stand mixer.

Cover with a towel and let it rise until it doubles in size, about an hour.

This makes four thin crusts.

Set your oven to 500 degrees. Score the crust with a fork and par bake for about 7 minutes.

Then you are ready for toppings.

Barnyard toppings:

4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

1 leek, sliced thinly, sauteed lightly in leftover bacon grease

Olive oil

1 duck egg (or other large egg)

1/4 cup fontina cheese

4 large leaves fresh basil

1/2 cup arugula

On your par-baked crust, drizzle olive oil and top with cheese, bacon, leek and basil. Crack the duck egg close to the center, and pop back into the 500-degree oven for 4 or 5 minutes, until the egg is cooked to your desired level of doneness. (I like mine quite runny.)

When it’s finished, sprinkle liberally with arugula and serve piping hot.

— Megan Stuke is a working mom, a practical cook and an impractical hostess.

Nutritious

I’ll admit that arugula wasn’t something I was even really aware of until a few years ago. In fact, I probably never actually “bought” it until it showed up in my CSA share and I couldn’t trade it out for anything else. Not the best introduction, but that’s part of the reason I do a CSA every year: to get acquainted with vegetables I’d only really eyed while motoring past them to my comfort zone of spinach and carrots.

And, arugula, I knew, was pretty, um, flavorful. It’s for mature audiences, you could say, because I doubt many children will come within 15 feet of it before their 18th birthdays. I mean, even my kid, who will happily eat a handful of baby spinach leaves without dressing (though, I’m sure that will change), likely would take one bite and think Mom had lost her mind.

Fresh arugula salad

Fresh arugula salad

That said, what I didn’t know until a few years ago is that arugula is a simple little green that can really spice up the dinner table. Once you learn to pair it with other ingredients that balance its pungent flavor, it becomes incredibly loveable.

For me, what pairs perfectly with arugula is fruit. The bitterness in the leaves complements many a spring/summer fruit. Later in the summer, I’ll pair it with local Asian pears, but for just this moment, adding in soon-to-be-in-season strawberries and a bit of citrus is a perfect and super healthy combination.

Bright and Fresh Arugula Salad

5 cups arugula

1 cup chopped strawberries

1 tangelo, chopped

2 tablespoons finely grated cheese (hard goat cheese preferred)

Oil and vinegar to dress

Place arugula in a serving dish, top with strawberries and tangelo. Lightly toss with oil and vinegar and top with finely grated cheese. Serves 4-5.

— Sarah Henning is a writer, blogger, vegetarian and mom.

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