Text and photographs are © by Ellen Spector Platt & Ellen Zachos, all rights reserved.

Monday, December 10, 2012


Wasabi Arugula (Diplotaxis erucoides) received the most acclaim from family and friends of any herb, any plant I grew this year and was entirely new to me.  I got a freebie packet of seeds, sent by Renee's Garden and in my careless way, I practically threw it in a container with a row of Love-in-a-mist (Nigella damascena). I've grown the  Nigella for years; it's an herb that's beautiful in both the flower and pod stages, with tasty little black seeds. The Wasabi Arugula isn't pretty in any stage, but is stunning in taste, with a spicy flavor highly reminiscent of wasabi paste that come in a little green mound with your sushi platter.
From that one pack of seeds I got my first pickings in about 5 weeks, continued to pick all summer, but left some to reseed itself, my favorite gardening activity. Treat the leaves and tiny white flowers as an herb for adding flavor to something else, not as the major part of the salad. Add a few leaves to any meat or cheese sandwich, dressing, or sauce for a zap of flavor. For poached salmon last summer, I made an oh-so-difficult dressing of plain yogurt and chopped Wasabi Arugula leaves.
It's now December 10th and I picked some for Charlie T. just yesterday, the perfect Hanukkah gift for this fine cook. I'm hoping to have a few fresh leaves all winter, as the packet says "frost hardy". I expect a crop in spring from the dropped seeds, though I've already gotten a new pack of seeds for insurance.
An advantage of this herb in city gardens is that it will grow in full sun or "partial afternoon shade"; that means for many of us that when shadows of a tall buildings start to hit our herb garden this plant will still thrive. If you cut more than you need for a meal, store the stems up to a week in a glass of water and keep cool.

1 comment:

Ellen Zachos said...

I think it's a very pretty green!

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