My arugula bolted in the great northwest heatwave two weeks ago. At first I was upset, tipped a little vinaigrette onto the curb for all those salads lost. But then I realized: it's pretty forking cool that my arugula bolted, and I am lucky to even know what that means.
When I realized the world was ending, I decided to pick up a few new hobbies. No, not alcoholism or LARPing. I decided I needed to learn 1) how to grow my own food and 2) how to run. The running was something about being able to escape the inevitable zombies or Republicans, or whatever Armageddon brings. It lasted only a few months (I swear I am going to pick it back up once it cools down) but the gardening stayed with me. I even planted a new garden this summer, in the parking lot next to my apartment.
I don't know how useful the skill is. For one, the zombies (or Republicans) are probably going to destroy my garden once the end of the world festivities get underway, assuming they have a taste for Thai basil. And for two, I'm not sure where to procure starters in the post-apocalyptic world.
But just having those plants, watering them, trimming them, and doing all those orthodox things that come with having a garden really puts me in the right frame of mind. Every time I take out my recycling or make my 27th trip to the supermarket, I linger a bit. Examine the ancho peppers coming in, pull the flowers off the basil. I don't know about you, but I was brought up completely disconnected from anything that didn't come in a Styrofoam container. If you told me you could actually grow broccoli, you might as well also tell me that you were a unicorn. So for me, having arugula do anything at all in my proximity, even if it's uselessly bitter, is kind of like having a unicorn kick me in the face. Just hallelujah that there's a unicorn.
Here's a recipe that makes use of arugula. It's vegan, of course, so it automatically fends off zombies and Republicans and the end of the world.
Pasta Della California
Anything with avocado in it can be called "California," right? Anyway, this is so damn good. The pasta is sauteed in lots of garlic and lime along with broccoli and peppery arugula. Then the avocados are gently tossed in just until they are warm. So if the idea of "cooked" avocados scares you, don't worry.
Choose avocados that are ripe but still firm, an avocado that is too mushy and has brown spots will not work here. If it's warm in your house, once the avocado is ripe you should refrigerate it for several hours — this way it will hold its shape when peeled and sliced. For this recipe, slice the avocado in half and remove the seed. Peel off the skin then slice each half lengthwise down the middle. Next, slice across into chunks.
1/2 pound whole wheat linguine
3 cups broccoli, tops cut into small florettes, stalks sliced thinly
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 cloves garlic, minced (yes 8, that's not a typo!)
1/4 teaspoon grated lime zest
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup white wine
1 cup vegetable broth
2 tablespoons lime juice (juice from one lime, depending on the juiciness of your lime)
1/2 teaspoon salt
several dashes fresh black pepper
4 cups loosely packed arugula leaves
2 avocados, peeled and sliced into 1 inch chunks (see tip)
Bring a large pot of water to boil and prep all your ingredients while the water boils, because this dish comes together in no time. Once boiling, add the pasta and cook as per package directions, usually about 10 minutes. In the last minute of cooking you will be adding the broccoli, so keep that in mind.
Preheat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil, garlic, lime zest, and red pepper flakes and gently heat, stirring often for about 2 minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic. Add the wine and bring the heat up reduce the wine, about 2 minutes. Add the vegetable broth, lime juice, salt, and fresh black pepper and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat to simmer and add the arugula.
By this point the pasta should be almost done so add the broccoli and cook for one more minute. Drain in a colander.
When the arugula is wilted add the broccoli and pasta to the pan and use a pasta spoon to toss it around, making sure to get everything coated in garlic, for about 3 more minutes. Add the avocado and turn the heat off. Gently toss the pasta to incorporate the avocado without smushing it just until it is warmed through, about a minute. Serve with generous doses of fresh black pepper. There is usually a lot of garlic left in the pan, so be sure to spoon that over your bowls of pasta.