Since I got all weepy over the closing of last summer's Adopt a Crop going off on its merry and grown-up way to its new adopted mommy, why don't I just do that again. Right now. For the Winter Adopt a Crop: Rocket/Roquette/Arugula.
The Winter Edition of Adopt a Crop was one of those ideas that I have because I'm sad and missing something and trying to swap the thing I really want (tomatoes) with what I can feasibly have (a vegetable that's not afraid of the frost).
I do this sometimes (think American Eagle jeans for $20 rather than Sevens for $185) and sometimes it works out (see: jeans example) and sometimes it fails miserably (see: Kraft Mac and Cheese rather than Velveeta Shells and Cheese).
I'm happy to say that while arugula is no tomato (obv.), it is a fine winter green that satisfies my need to have a decent salad regardless of the weather outside. In the summer, I make salads almost entirely from my tomatoes and, I think, I'll be making my winter salads mainly from arugula for many future winters. So - I'm calling this winter swap for tomatoes a success. Mostly because it has distracted me from my longing for warm, succulent, rich garden tomatoes that taste like tomatoes instead of sand like the ones from the grocery store do.
OK, nothing distracts me from tomatoes, but the arugula has been good. And I will grow it again. And eat a lot of it.
Why? Because this shit is so easy to grow, is delicious and lends itself to things other than salad. It's diverse, people. Dynamic. Flexible.
It is the tomato of the leafy green world.
If you don't believe me, let me tell you all the things I've done with this easy ass crop that grew abundantly from one (one!) packet of $.99 seeds:
- Swapped it for basil in Thai Chicken Soup (I need to tell you about this. Remind me. AWESOME.)
- Put it on pizza
- Added it to tomato soup
- Used it as greens in a million salads
- Made arugula pesto
- Added it to rice noodles
- Ate it straight from the garden
- Slid it into sandwiches instead of limp lettuce
- Chopped it up in tuna salad
- Froze it into cubes for future use
Really now. That's a lot of work for one packet of seeds that ended up taking very little room in my garden. I think the space I planted was about 2'x2'. And all the water it needed came from The Sky. Plus, it didn't even balk at frost, wind, cold or rain. And when I harvested it and then let it sit in the sun in a big black bucket for 4 hours, it perked right back up when I rinsed it in the sink under cool water.
If nothing else, this shit is resilient. And I hear it's good for you too, or something.
All good reasons to love this crop and then maybe grow it on your own. Or, if you're brave enough to try something as exotic and bizarre as pesto made from something other than basil (Thank you to Farmgirl Susan for this arugula pesto recipe), maybe you want to adopt this crop?
Oh yes, you want this.
We sent some off with our neighbors (the nice ones, you know), but the batch I made was huge, and I have enough to send some off with one lucky adoptive parent. When it shows up, you can treat it as you would any delicious pesto - spread it on something, stir it into some pasta, swap it for your usual sauce on pizza, dip something in it or just eat it with a spoon.
I will not provide the spoon, but this is my preferred method for eating anything spoonable. Why bother with extra vehicles that take up valuable belly real estate when all you want is the stuff on the spoon?
Perhaps I learned this while properly appreciating Nutella? I can't say for sure.
Anyway, if you are a free-spooning pesto lover or just adopted arugula as this winter's crop because you wanted to see if I'd plant my cat (her name is Rocket, you know) - leave a comment to the effect of, "I want some of your weird pesto" and I'll do the random name picker thing again and announce the winner.
Just comment by this Friday, THE THIRTEENTH SCARY, and I'll announce the Winner of the Arugula Visitor next week. Perhaps on the same day that I announce the winner of the Covert Bathroom Storage since I seem to have forgotten about that whoopsy! I remember now!
And now we can all consider ourselves wiser in the ways of arugula because now I know that it's not just for salad. Even though I totally sin my ass off by making entire salads of just arugula and no other greens and for some reason that's wrong but who makes up these rules? Obviously not me, but I'm telling you, now that we're all Arugula Wise, we can do whatever we want, including making whole salads from this one green and then also making pesto from it while we miss tomatoes. And basil. And fresh corn. OH! And green beans!
Garden update coming shortly. There's news. Fancy Bubba-built-me-something news.