A few weeks ago I went to a favorite restaurant and had a breakfast dish I love — poached eggs served on toasted ciabatta with a bit of Grana Padano and prosciutto. It is a simple dish, and perfectly done by this restaurant. But they usually served it all alone on a plate, and it always looked a little naked to me. This time, however, I found that they had added an ultra-simple salad to the plate: Just a few bites of baby arugula, dressed with nothing more than a drizzle of oil and some salt. It was a vivid reminder of just how good a simple arugula salad can be.
The peppery arugula refreshed my palate between each bite of that rich, buttery toast and egg dish. I went home craving arugula salad like never before.
It was a welcome reminder to me that salads don't need to be difficult or complicated. As much as I love an elaborate salad with plenty of crunchy, salty, and sweet bits involved, a small mound of arugula with nothing more than lemon and olive oil can be just as satisfying.
And arugula is actually in season right now! Yes, arugula is a cold weather green, and if you live in a moderately temperate climate you can grow a pot of arugula right now. Even if you live in a very cold place like Ohio or New York, arugula can grow under a light cover of plastic. It's very adaptable to cold, and it bolts at the first sign of heat.
So as springs creeps closer, don't forget your arugula salads. They are the perfect complement to a rich, hearty casserole — so refreshing and delicious.
I dress mine very simply. I toss the greens with a thin drizzle of olive oil, then a sprinkle each of crisp kosher salt and black pepper. At the very end, I squeeze a Meyer lemon over them (just a few drops!) and toss with my hands. I ate a pile of arugula with this dressing a few nights ago, and was perfectly satisfied.
How do you like your arugula salads?
(Images: Faith Durand)