Nothing says summer like snacking on some spicy arugula straight from the ground! At the Southside Permaculture Park you can find arugula growing all over the property from around the annual bed to within the swales (keep your eyes peeled and try to find it!). However, some of this arugula may not be what you’re used to seeing in the grocery store. The arugula at the Park has been around for years, and as such continues to spread and take root wherever it can after it flowers. Because we don’t actively watch and harvest the wild arugula around the park, sometimes this leafy green will bolt, or go to seed.
There are three main maturations of arugula: baby, mature, and bolted. Unlike the approximately three-inch baby arugula you’d find in a bag at the grocery store, some of the peppery plant at the park reaches six inches in the mature stage.
This middle stage of arugula development comes before it flowers and has more of a peppery kick compared to its shorter, younger form. You can harvest this weedier-looking arugula by pulling up the whole plant and picking off the leaves at the base. (Be sure to harvest any greens in the morning or at night as to not have the plant wilt in full sun). The six-inch version makes for a fantastic fresh pizza topping or sandwich addition.
The most mature arugula around comes after the plant flowers. When you see a little yellow bloom on the arugula plant, then you know the leaves will be extra flavorful. To eat, just twist or cut the leaves off the plant and collect them to bring home. In terms of eating, pesto and other sauces are a great way to integrate the greens into your diet. Online, there are plenty of bolted arugula recipes but one of the most delicious and seasonally appropriate is a ricotta and fresh pea pasta.
When you have more bolted arugula than you know what to do with, throw it in a food processor with ricotta cheese, lemon, fresh farmer’s market peas, garlic, and spices for a delicious sauce for any pasta. Fresh peas are a great find this time of year with most farmer’s markets carrying the in-season veggie. Paired with the spicy bolted arugula it makes a perfectly balanced vegetarian supper. Try out the recipe and let us know what you think!
(Also check out the recipe that inspired this version from thefoodcharlitan.com)
- 2 smashed garlic cloves
- ½ cup bolted arugula (or any kind of arugula you can get your hands on!)
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- 1 tsp. fresh thyme (check in on the herb spiral to see if thyme is harvestable!)
- 1 and ½ cups fresh peas (thawed frozen peas work too)
- 15 oz. ricotta cheese
- Zest and juice of one lemon (juice to taste)
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 tsp. salt
- ¾ tsp. pepper
- 1 cup peas
- ½ cup parmesan cheese
- 1-4 tbsp olive oil (to taste and texture)
- Crushed red pepper flakes (to taste)
- 1 lb. pasta of choice
- Cook pasta according to package directions in salted water
- Combine garlic and arugula in a food processor and pulse
- Add the rest of the sauce ingredients and pulse until mostly smooth (leave some pieces of pea for a nice texture!)
- Add sauce to pasta along with 1 cup of peas from assembly ingredients, parmesan cheese, olive oil, and red pepper flakes
- Allow sauce to warm and parmesan cheese to melt
- Optional: top with toasted pine nuts, extra red pepper flakes, and extra cheese!