The Secret of the Local Red Arugula

 

 

Here is a secret only farm-to-table chefs share: The red arugula…

Many plants don’t fair well in the frost, but sturdy leafy greens love it. They actually benefit and develop unique flavor traits.

Most notable, according to Chef Chris Albrecht of Eno Terra, is the arugula. Rarely red, it turns a brick red color on the tips with the cold weather.  Red arugula is usually dismissed by customers as shriveled; so farmers save it for in-the-know chefs who value its enhanced bite and unique cooking qualities..

Post-frost greens are rare (the frost slows growth a lot),  so once temperatures drop be prepared to seek them out from you local farmers. Besides arugula there are other fabulous sturdy greens such as Happy Rich and Green Lance.

With the right preparation, says Chef Chris, these greens’  flavor and texture are striking. “They combine leaves and stem/floret and in doing so capture more sauce and flavor.  Their texture is also much more robust than, say, spinach — they do wilt but don’t become mushy.”

 

Leafy greens from Canal Farm, arriving at Eno Terra. Photo by Nirit Yadin

Add post-frost greens to braises such as rabbit and lamb. You can also blanch the greens and then sauté with roasted garlic. Serve simply with pan-roasted poussin from Griggstown Farm (quite a change from broccoli and chicken).

Or, if you’re still using your grill, blanch the sturdier leaves, transfer to the grill and then toss with roasted garlic, red pepper flakes and olive oil.

The combination of grill, garlic and heat could easily overpower your average leafy greens but in the case of the post-frost greens it provides a great platform to those pronounced flavors and sturdy textures.

Fall is for cooks, no doubt…

 

Nirit Yadin

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