I love arugula. Neither one of my parents like it, so I never really had much of it until I went to France. The French like arugula too. They put it in and on a lot of unusual things. Like pizza. Turns out, I loooooove arugula on pizza. If I find the rare place in America that puts arugula on pizza, you can pretty much bet on what I’m going to order there.
Arugula looks like your ordinary leaf, but it’s nothing like regular lettuce. It has a real flavor to it – a little bitter, but a little perkier. It adds a certain je ne sais quoi to anything you put it in.
So I was quite excited to buy a bunch of arugula at my local farmers market recently. The leaves were big and bushy and fabulous, and I couldn’t wait to get home and try them. I was so excited that I didn’t even wait to dress a salad. I snatched one giant leaf right out of the colander and stuck it in my mouth whole.
That was a mistake. I was expecting my arugula to be a little zesty and a little peppery, but this stuff was downright hot. The spice almost brought tears to my eyes. It turns out that maybe I don’t love arugula as much as I thought. Or maybe I love baby arugula, the early, spring crop that hasn’t had as long to develop a true pungency. Or maybe I love triple-washed, packaged arugula that’s been mellowing on a supermarket shelf for a few days. Either way, full-grown, farm-fresh arugula is serious and not for the faint of taste bud.
That being said, after I composed myself from the initial shock, I decided to go ahead with making a salad. We had a watermelon in the fridge that I cubed up and added to the sharp greens. I topped it off with romano cheese shavings and some lemon juice. The bitter, sweet, salty, sour combination sounds a little crazy, but somehow together it all works. I’m pretty sure I won’t get around to eating the rest of that intense arugula – unless I get up the ambition to make a spicy pizza!