I plant many of my flower starts in February. Digging around in the dirt awakens a strong craving for fresh arugula. I want to fast forward through the rest of winter to get a taste of the strong, robust greens. Fortunately, the cold-hardy plants grow quickly. I’m close to harvesting my first batch and will be able to plant a second crop. Farmers markets and CSAs are also offering this green.

HA Gina Garden

Simplicity is one of the reasons I love arugula. It adds a kick to salads and punches up pizza. The leafy annual plants come in bunches with stems and don’t require much because the nutty, peppery flavor speaks for itself.

My kids and husband recently caught a salmon and I paired the fresh fish with a bed of arugula. I didn’t use any dressing and my husband used few spices on the salmon. Less is more when it comes to fresh, quality food.

Lately, I’ve been putting it on breakfast sandwiches. Eggs from my hens, paired with Alaska grown arugula and a local tomato is an incredible way to begin the day.

Chunky arugula pesto is one of my favorite recipes because it has a much different vibe than the typical blended pesto. The idea is to infuse the oil with the flavor of arugula and garlic. We make and freeze it in batches throughout the summer.

The longer it sits, the more flavorful it becomes. I skim the extra oil for quinoa or pasta salad. I used sunflower seeds in this recipe to temper the full flavor of the arugula and garlic, however, any oily nut works well.

HA arugula appetizer

For an appetizer, drizzle a tad of the pesto on rustic, crusty bread or a fresh tomato. Pair it with sauvignon blanc or perhaps a shiraz to bring out the peppery taste. A blonde ale would be divine, as well.

From simple to exquisite

Arugula, a bitter green, can also be quite lovely in salads — especially when paired with salty prosciutto and a sweet fruit, like a summer cantaloupe. Pears, blood oranges or fresh blueberries could also stand in for the melon.

KTVA’s Jessica Stugelmayer came across this flavor combination years ago when planning a bridal shower for a friend who asked for something “elegant, yet down-to-earth.” She stacked the ingredients, plated them with fancy hors d’oeuvre picks, et voila!

Arugula Prosciutto Melon 2

Gina Romero is the executive producer of KTVA’s Frontiers. She can be reached by email.

Jessica Stugelmayer can be reached by emailFacebook and Twitter.

Harvesting Alaska is an ongoing series exploring all the ways Alaskans live off the land. KTVA welcomes you to share your recipes by sending them to web@ktva.com and by using #myharvestAK on social media. Your recipe may be featured in an upcoming Harvesting Alaska.