Wild arugula is best appreciated by people who also like stinky cheeses and smooth malt whiskey. Wild arugula makes hoop house varieties and the spicy salad greens found at farmers markets tame. It has an intensity and zest that truly is an adult pleasure. No wonder it’s also called Rocket.
I crave it like Rapunzel’s mother in the fairy tale and so grow two varieties of wild arugula. The first is from the Chicago Honey Cooperative‘s garden. It’s savory with a strong flavor that’s simplex, one long sustained note. The second variety comes from the 61st Community Garden (of blessed memory) and has a complexity of tangy spiciness enriched by an oiliness that makes it especially delicious.
With the wild arugula, I made two different pasta sauces.
creamy arugula pasta sauce
Puree in the blender: one large bunch (3-4 cups) of arugula leaves, cleaned and washed, 4-5 sprigs of parsley, 2-4 garlic cloves, 1 cup of Greek yoghurt or sour cream, 4 oz. goat cheese and just enough olive oil to grease the blender. Salt and pepper to taste. It makes a creamy sauce the most brilliant color of green. Serve over pasta with grated cheese.
Puree 3-4 cups of arugula leaves, cleaned and washed, 1/3 cup pine nuts, 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, 1 garlic clove, 1/3 cup olive oil.
Both the pesto and the creamy sauce freeze well and can be used later. For best preserving pesto per my earlier post on basil pesto, I freeze only the paste of arugula and olive oil, and add the garlic, cheese and pine nuts fresh with the defrosted paste. You can also chop arugula and toss with pasta, olive oil and grated cheese for a simple meal.
Both wild arugulae have fall seed pods and, if you’re interested, I’d be glad to share for planting now.