Until about nine days ago, the only vegetable base I used for my sandwiches was either a bed of lettuce or cole slaw. All that changed when we visited Mercato Centrale and experienced the not-exactly-cheap burgers from Beurre. No lettuce. Instead, a small bed of arugula — or rocket, as it is more popularly known in Britain. I so loved arugula in my sandwich that I’ve adopted the idea when making sandwiches at home.
Arugula is not easy to find in this country. I don’t think it is locally grown. When I saw bags of arugula at Unimart some weeks ago, I bought a bunch to try at home. I had seen far too many Jamie Oliver shows featuring “rocket” and I’ve been more than casually intrigued for a long time.
Unlike lettuce which is essentially neutral in flavor (so that it only adds color and texture when used in sandwiches), arugula is slightly bitter. Not ampalaya bitter but only fractionally so. I made a rocket salad, Sam didn’t like it and I haven’t tried again yet (I would learn later that the trick is to mix the rocket with other vegetables to neutralize the bitterness). The arugula that I didn’t use for the salad went into the fridge in a covered container and it stayed there, almost forgotten, until a day or so after that fateful Sunday when bought those Beurre burgers.
One night, way past midnight, I felt hungry and I decided to make a sandwich. I rummaged through the fridge looking for the huge container with all the cheeses. Somewhere deep in the fridge, I found a container, opened it and saw the arugula. Still fresh, amazingly, bright green and crisp, after at least two weeks. Ignoring the lettuce in the fridge, I took the already rinsed arugula and laid several leaves on the bottom half of my pesto pan de sal. Then, some chicken salad, a few slices of cheese, tomatoes and onions. Delicious.
Now that I know that I can keep arugula in the fridge for a rather extended period of time, I’ll buy a bunch whenever and wherever I can find it.