Arugula addiction

Arugula is an acquired taste, but addictive once you acquire it. Today, I am obsessed!! I can't bring myself to make salads with different leaves. I have the arugula with the same mustard maple syrup vinaigrette, but dress it up for different occasions. Must credit to my friend and neighbor, chef and caterer, Sandra, who has the most exquisite of tastes, for getting me into the 'habit'. She is now living her dream life in Paris for the next four years. Sandra introduced me to arugula with her balsamic vinegar dressing. The baby arugula leaves are at best in the Fall and the Spring when weather is somewhat cooler and moderate, I would drive around different markets to find the most beautiful, perfect leaves. Can't really say tender since it has a peppery bite. Today I will share the recipe for arugula with strawberries, bell peppers and shallots, I have had often for the last ten years. In the Fall especially, when pomegranates and figs are in season, make arugula with pomegranates, or baked figs, stuffed with cheeses and traditionally walnuts on top of the stuffed figs. My son has severe tree nuts allergy, so at our home I never cook or bake with nuts. In the future I will post how I got into organic food, what do we substitute for nuts, and give a tree nut free power bar recipe. But, I digress, this allergy matter deserves a whole new entry on its own. Going back to the figs, this past September, I was hoping to get some figs from a soccer mom friend, who has a fig tree in her yard. She had the most beautiful, juicy and plump organic figs, I have ever seen. I was execrcising some restraint, when seeing figs at grocery stores or markets, looking forward to having Diane's. Unfortunately, with the cool Summer and colder weather coming upon us earlier, her figs never ripened. Looking forward to next year though!!
Arugula salad

2 Plus handful bunches of baby arugula
1 shallot diced
1 bell pepper diced
Few strawberries sliced
Seasonal: Pomegranates or stuffed figs

4 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 plus teaspoon country dijon mustard
2 teaspoon plus maple syrup
Fresh black pepper

Arrange salad in a serving bowl, with strawberries, bell peppers and shallots on top of greens. Toss in all Vinaigrette ingredients in a separate small bowl and emulsify with a small whisk. Toss into greens before serving. Always taste vinaigrette and adjust to your liking.

Arugula wilts easily so the salad needs to be tossed moments prior to serving. Also, even if you dress up the salad with different ingredients, always, always use the shallots, they are a key ingredient for the flavor reached with this vinaigrette. A little portion of vinaigrette takes you a long way.

Again, use this recipe as a guideline, some say that oil to vinegar proportions should be 3:1, I like it more acidic, and the maple syrup cuts the acidity for balance. Some might like more mustard in it. I do use certain products like Grey Poupon Country mustard and Terra Medi red wine vinegar. I also used a murky (as in good murky) cold pressed , reasonably priced, olive oil I found at Trader's Joes, but haven't seen it in awhile. The one is in the picture is another one I picked up from the shelf. I was first introduced to Terra Medi red wine vinegar at Wegman's but have not seen it there in months, Whole Foods carries it. It's pricey in my opinion, but this sort of addiction I do not wish to shake!! Now that I gave a shout out to almost all the grocery stores around, in all seriousness any brand will work!

This salad has been a huge success!!

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