The Italians know something we Americans often don’t. That is, that sometimes the most wonderful dishes are the most basic. If you’ve got fresh, great quality produce and make the right flavor combinations, the simplest things will be the most delicious. And here I share with you one of my favorites.
Arugula may be the best of all herbs. It grows wild in places like Greece and Italy, where old toothless guys with walking sticks and baskets and faithful hound dogs named Pirot forage for it on barren hillsides. It’s easy to grow, at least in California. Let it go to seed, and you’ll have little wild arugulas popping up all over your yard. And you and your kids can get a basket and pretend you’re foraging, too.
Peppery, floral and complex, its flavors become even more sublime when it is combined with five additional ingredients — fresh lemon juice, best-quality extra virgin olive oil, shaved aged parmesan, freshly cracked pepper and flaky sea salt such as Maldon. As beautiful and sophisticated as it is simple.
My 7-year-old son who is suspect of anything green will devour as much of this salad as I will serve him, he loves it so. You will too:
Italian Arugula Salad
1 cup arugula per person
extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup thinly shaved aged parmesan reggiano
flaky sea salt & freshly ground pepper
Choose nice looking plates. Spread a cup of arugula artfully around each plate. Squeeze lemon juice over the top, one or two good squeezes per plate should do it. (You should be able to drizzle all four salads with a single lemon.) Then drizzle each salad with your best olive oil. Sprinkle some salt over the top, and a twist or two of freshly ground pepper. Top each with some shaved parmesan. Serve immediately, perhaps as the first course in an Italian dinner.
Wine suggestion: A nice, light pinot grigio or floral sauvignon blanc.
Coolest pepper mills on earth: www.peppermills.ca