In recent years I have prioritized raising babies over raising vegetables, and I haven’t spent much time in my garden. It’s every vegetable for itself out there, and several have risen to the occasion by growing, flowering, going to seed, and repeating, providing me with a an annual harvest. The crops that have been most efficient in this regard–aside from the herbs; does anyone need parsley?–are a frilly lettuce, a purple kale, and the arugula. Every spring they pop up and remind me that I had better clear some space if I want anything else to grow this year.
Last week summer came to Seattle and the garden bloomed with a sea of delicate arugula flowers. I left several plants, of course, to ensure next year’s crop. And I picked springtime’s last armload of arugula to take into the kitchen.
This is my favorite arugula salad (although this one, with grilled or roasted potatoes and blue cheese, is a close second). And it’s as simple as can be: greens, grated Parmesan cheese, deeply toasted walnuts, a sweet balsamic vinaigrette. It goes with anything, but it also makes a fine summer dinner all by itself.
Arugula Salad with Parmesan and Toasted Walnuts: Bake a couple of handfuls of walnut halves at 350, stirring often, until deeply toasted (10-12 minutes). Meanwhile, wash and dry a big bunch of arugula and tear the leaves if they’re large. Toss greens with a balsamic vinaigrette (2 parts olive oil to 1 part sweet and syrupy balsamic vinegar plus salt and pepper to taste), then add grated Parmesan cheese and toss again. Top with the walnuts.