Have you ever tasted a new ingredient and wondered how you ever lived without it? This is how I felt after my first encounter with arugula blossoms at the Echo Park farmer's market last week. At first glance, the clusters of veined flowers are a bit weedy and overgrown-looking and don't attract much attention. How many years have my eyes glazed past them at the farmers' market? Or have those in the know always snatched them up before my arrival?
I am grateful to the grower who asked me to pop a flower in my mouth and smiled as I relished my first spicy, sweet bite (and then sold me two large bunches!). Arugula blossoms and buds are peppery, verdant, and a bit mellower (and dare I say better) than the leaves. The white and purple, four-petaled blossoms seen here are from domestic arugula plants. Wild arugula flowers are yellow and also edible.
Arugula blossoms can add zest and dimension to any number of dishes. Try sprinkling them into salads, sandwiches, soups, and eggs. Thus far, I have enjoyed them in slow-scrambled eggs, a goat cheese sandwich, and a spring salad. I'm also planning to try Amelia Saltsman's recipe for Roasted Beet and Blood Orange Salad with Arugula Flowers in The Santa Monica Farmers' Market Cookbook.
Here are some other ways cooks have used arugula flowers:
• Arugula, Fennel and Orange Salad with Strawberry Vinaigrette, from Jugalbandi
• Asparagus with Spring Vinaigrette & Arugula Blossoms, from The Slow Cook
• Crab and Green Garlic Scramble, from Auntie Em's Kitchen
• Farro Salad with Mandarins, Beets, and Arugula Blossoms, from Weird Vegetables
• Potato and Arugula Flower Parathas, from Feeding Maybelle
• Seared Scallops with Grilled Sweet Onion, Red Pepper Coulis, and Arugula Flowers, from Brooklyn Farmhouse
Like all edible flowers, arugula blossoms are delicate and should be eaten soon after bringing them home. Store them in a bag or glass of water in the refrigerator.
(Images: Emily Ho)