Friday, June 10, 2011


G and I have talked a little bit about this green, leafy vegetable.  Her hubs is not quite a fan, nor are many people.  I would lump arugula along with those bitter tasting vegetables that most Americans tend to not enjoy, much like escarole.  I must say, I enjoy arugula 10 times more than escarole.  Though I am willing to give escarole another chance this year (and be sure to have a plan B dinner ready in waiting).

It is high in Vitamin C and potassium, and considered an aphrodisiac in the Mediterranean (thanks wikipedia).  It is also called rocket in many places.

Well, we had a good, large bag full of arugula to use this last week, and another one today.  I hauled out my new Mark Bittman cookbook (you are probably going to see many recipes from him as the novelty of this cookbook has yet to wear off), and found a tasty sounding recipe.  Well, it sounded tasty, but also potentially not all that tasty.  Grits Gratin with Garlicky Arugula. 

Let me explain.  I have a slight gag reflex for certain foods, off the top of my head, polenta, some types of cooked eggplant, big beans, and large piles of wilted greens.  This is mainly due to feeling ill shortly after digesting such foods and the mental connection has yet to dissapate.  I apologize if this is tmi, but it is really how I felt about this recipe.  Potentially great, potentially gag inducing.  But it sounded so unique I wanted to give it a try.  I chose the option Mark had to add white beans (uh-oh, three reflexes in one dish) to satisfy my hearty food-loving hubs. 

This recipe was 10 times better than expected.  The hint of balsamic vinegar paired with sharp asiago cheese and mounds of garlic was amazingly delicious.  The slight bitterness of the arugula was well offset by the sharp cheese and sweetness of the vinegar.  I would use less olive oil next time, though that could be a preference. 

Grits Gratin with Arugula, White Beans, and Garlicadapted from Mark Bittman - How to Cook Everything Vegetarian
Serves 4-6

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3-4 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon sugar
4 cups arugula leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 can  white beans
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 recipe Polenta, made with grits and molded according to Grilled or Fried Polenta
1/2 cup freshly grated Asiago cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 F.  Lightly oil a shallow 2-quart gratin dish or oblong baking pan.

In a large, deep skillet, heat two tablespoons olive oil over medium-low heat.  Add the garlic and sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, or until the garlic is soft and starting to color.  Turn off the heat.  Add the arugula, beans, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and stir gently a couple of times.  Spread the contents of the pan onto the bottom of the prepared baking dish.  Drizzle with the vinegar.

Turn the grits out of the pan and slice into 1/2 inch slices (I had to clean the knife off halfway through, it got all gummed up with grits).  Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.  Carefully lay them on top of the arugula, overlapping if necessary.  Drizzle with the remaining two tablespoons of oil and sprinkle with the cheese.  Bake for about  25-35  minutes, or until golden and bubbly.  Serve with lots of black pepper.

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