Anyone who says salads are unexciting has never tasted arugula. When the leaves are small, they pack a hefty, savory punch; when they get bigger their peppery flavor can be downright spicy. I’m not sure how arugula grows elsewhere, but in my garden it’s always the first of my salad greens to be ripe for picking. It’s also the first to bolt, which it does quite suddenly.
Because I usually have an abundance of arugula in my garden, I’ve tried lots of salad recipes. I also enjoy it in frittatas, as an uncooked pizza topping, and cooked it with olive oil and garlic for a simple pasta dressing. One of my favorite salad recipes is also one of the simplest. It comes from my overall favorite cookbook, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison.
I’m recounting this recipe here from memory, so it may not be exactly as Madison suggests, but this is the way I made it just last evening. This salad can stand on its own as a light lunch or dinner, or can accompany a main dish.
Spring Arugula Salad
1/2 pound arugula
4 slices sourdough bread, thinly sliced
2 hard-boiled eggs, cut lengthwise in half
6 T extra-virgin olive oil
1-1/2 T sherry vinegar
Thinly shaved Gruyere cheese (optional)
Preheat your oven—a toaster oven works well—to 350°. Brush both sides of the bread slices with olive oil (about 2 T). Place on a baking sheet and bake until slightly on each side, flipping them once to make sure both sides are well cooked. Leave whole or break into rough pieces.
Place 4 T of olive oil, the sherry vinegar and some fresh-ground black pepper in to a small jar. Shake until mixed. Toss with arugula leaves.
Arrange arugula on salad plates and top with Gruyere if you’re using it. Top with croutons and egg halves.
In the summer when I have fresh tomatoes I add some to this salad. Sweet cherry tomatoes, cut in half, work well to balance the intensity of the greens.