between the rains…

The gardens are loving the rain.  Some of my plants look like they have tripled in size!

Before the deluge, however, my arugula had bolted, so I had to use it all up.  I was growing arugula before it was trendy, and feeling kinda smug about it.  Its fancy name is Eruca Sativa, but it is commonly called salad rocket, rucola, roquette, rugula, and colewort.  The Americanization of  the name is from the 1960’s, when NYT food editor Craig Claiborne called it arugula (jamaica, ooh, I wanna take ya).

The Mediterraneans have been chowing down on the annual since Roman times, and several classical authors describe it as an aphrodisiac…  The poet Virgil himself wrote:  “the rocket excites the sexual desire of drowsy people”.  woo-hoo, ya’ll, and I just thought it tasted good.

It’s easy enough to grow, but like lettuce, heat causes it to bolt and taste stronger.  It can grow up to 3 feet or so, but since I put it in late, mine only reached about 18 inches.  It can (and should) be started earlier in Spring and sown directly in the garden.   Since it stayed so cold this year, I didn’t get any mesclun ingredients sown, so settled for plants.  There was no compromise in the taste, though.   I can sow some seeds again in September when space opens up in the garden and hopefully get a second crop.




Recipes abound for the leafy green, but I usually just mix it into a salad.  For blogging purposes, however, I made up a little salad that Cavatappo’s (one of my favorite haunts in NYC)  introduced to me.  I’m sorry to admit that the pictures of the plate were not as appetizing as the actual meal, so I want you to just try it for yourself.  It’s delicious.

Arugula & Goat Cheese Salad 

Mix arugula, goat cheese, and cherry tomatoes.  Use balsamic vinaigrette to taste.

Voila!  Couldn’t be easier!

There are some good balsamic vinaigrette products at the market, but I make up my own with balsamic vinegar, olive  oil, garlic and whatever fresh herbs I have on hand;  this time it was oregano, basil, and thyme.

I admit I didn’t know it was an aphrodisiac…I like it even better now..!