No matter how many mounds of arugula I've eaten since, this punchy green with stems spindly enough to forbid mannerly consumption will always remind me of the summer I lived in Florence.
Some mornings I felt like Cinderella racing down the stairs of my apartment to get to the café counter before 11am to order a cappuccino. Once 11:01am struck, ordering coffee with milk would rob me of both my Italian shoes--and slap a fanny pack on me for good measure.
I'd drink my every-bit-as-divine-as-it-was-yesterday cappuccino smelling, not coffee, but rather peppery arugula being readied for the bresaola salads that were the last lunch I ever loved. Rosy slices of cured beef piled high with a tangle of wild arugula and a blanket of Parmigiano-Reggiano came with a halved lemon and a cruet of grassy olive oil for self-dressing.
Because good bresaola is hard to come by here, I've made a simple salad even simpler by canceling the cured meat and adding lightly toasted pine nuts.
It's hardly complicated--just a more sumptuous dish's lithe little companion that doubles as a sniff down San Giuseppe lane.
Simple Arugula Salad
- 1/4 cup of pine nuts
- one 5-oz. clamshell of organic baby arugula (like Organic Girl)
- a hunk of Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- juice of one small lemon
Spread pine nuts out in a small sauté pan set over low-medium heat. Once you get a faint whiff of popcorn and/or see them start to glisten, give them a flip, toasting until tanline-free.
Place the arugula in a large bowl, sprinkling the pine nuts over top.
Use a potato peeler to deliver unrestricted shavings of Parmigiano-Reggiano and season to taste with salt (and pepper too if you are feeling fiendish).
Dress with olive oil, lemon, and wistful memories.