Unexpected Edibles - Arugula Blossoms
March 01, 2013 at 1:02 PM
Grown for its flavorful, peppery leaves, arugula is a popular salad green among home gardeners and market growers alike. Yet arugula’s time in the garden is often too short. Preferring cool weather and being quick to mature, it is one of the first spring greens to bolt, sending up its flowering stalks with sometimes maddening speed. When arugula blooms, its leaves become tough and bitter.
For those who let their plants stick around long enough to flower, arugula’s virtues do not end with its leaves. Arugula blossoms open in loose clusters, each one orchid-like in its loveliness: four slender white petals arranged like a sparse pinwheel and decorated with dark purple veining. And they offer a surprising burst of flavor—hints of spice reminiscent of the leaves that fade to a caramel sweetness. Neither as spicy nor fragrant as its leaves, the arugula blossom’s charm lies in its sugary finish—a welcome contrast to bitter salad leaves or savory dishes.
Though the petals don’t offer much in the way of texture, the flower base has a tender crunch that holds its own in a salad or as a garnish. These tiny flowers don’t stay fresh for long, withering after only a few hours off the plant, so it’s best to harvest them just before using.