Monday, May 3, 2010

Baby Arugula

I keep trying to watch "The Third Man," but every couple minutes I pause the movie and dream about a cheese sandwich with baby arugula.  I am hungry and tired, and the greatest achievements in film mean nothing to me when I am hungry and tired.  Harry Lime got run over by a car, and I am wondering what kind of sandwich he had in his belly at the time of death.  Did he have an ordinary meatball sub in there?  Or was it tuna?  Perhaps he had nothing but a buttered slice of bread in his tummy when he got mowed down.  In any case, I sat down to write this blog post about baby arugula, and this is where I ended up.  Life is indeed a strange little beast.  Nonetheless, I do have some very developed ideas about harvesting baby arugula.

The first thing you'll notice is that there's actually a tiny stick in my sandwich!  This should be an important clue for all of you food detectives.  The baby arugula pictured here is from my garden.  I harvested a large area of it when the seedlings were only half an inch tall.  To some, harvesting lettuces at .5 inches tall may seem like a monumental waste of time, but every year I do it.  Every year I toss out handfuls of arugula seeds and let them germinate; and when they've gone just beyond sprouting, I pull them out wholesale, roots and all, and I clean them in two big pots of water, swishing them around, back and forth, pot to pot, jostling them vigorously and changing the water each time it gets dirty.  Like I said, it's a huge amount of work for such a small quantity of salad green, but it's become a ritual delicacy for me, and in that way it has become a beacon of summer.  

Anyway, I don't mean to bore you.  If you are so inclined, I really recommend doing this.  Baby greens, arugula among them, are best when eaten roots and all.  Pull out the entire plant and thoroughly wash it.  Baby greens are nice an springy; they are unlike mature lettuces because they don't compact.  Basically, the whole point of this post is to encourage gardeners to eat the roots of their micro lettuces.  The root hairs are so long and they get all tangled up like hairs in a shower drain, but they're much more delicious.  

Bon appetite 

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