This mustard is the only edible I brought home from the recent plant sale at the Huntington Botanical Gardens. I have a satellite 10X20 foot vegetable garden this year at a local community garden that’s already full to capacity with tomatoes, squash, and beans, and it’s really the tail-end of the cool winter growing season for brassicas here in Southern California. But whatever this beauty wants to do, grow or go to seed, is fine with me. I’ll save the seed and plant ribbons of this frilly stuff next fall. Johnny’s Selected Seeds is a current source for seed.
Brassica juncea ‘Scarlet Frills Mustard’
Reputedly the fieriest mustard you can grow, I’m excited to find out what it can do to my favorite fast food these days, spaghetti with anchovies, recipe from Mark Bittman at The New York Times. Ever since we were served plump, fresh anchovies in a Trastevere restaurant after an exhausting, late-night ramble in Rome some years back, we’ve enthusiastically embraced these tasty little fish. Granted, that fish we had in Rome and what’s available locally don’t have a lot to say to each other, but the salty spirit of the sea still comes through in the fish packed in olive oil in those little tins. Better if you can find them in glass jars. I’m not sure whether to lightly cook the mustard or use it as a garnish. But at a minimum, the mustard’s burgundy lacyiness will look divine sprinkled on top. This winter I’ve been substituting spinach for arugula and use anchovies from Trader Joe’s.
Pasta With Anchovies And Arugula via Mark Bittman
Salt and fresh-ground black pepper
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 large cloves garlic, peeled and slivered
8 anchovy fillets, or more to taste, with some of their oil
1 pound linguine or other long pasta
2 cups arugula, washed, dried and chopped
1/2 teaspoon or more crushed red pepper flakes
1. Set a large pot of water to a boil, and salt it.
2. Put half of the olive oil in a deep skillet, and turn the heat to medium. A minute later, add the garlic and the anchovies. When the garlic sizzles and the anchovies break up, turn the heat to its lowest setting.
3. Cook the pasta until it is tender but not mushy. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid, and drain. Add pasta and arugula to skillet, along with enough of the reserved cooking water to make a sauce. Turn heat to medium, and stir for a minute. Add salt and pepper to taste, plus a pinch or more of red pepper flakes.
4. Turn pasta and sauce into a bowl, toss with remaining olive oil and serve.
Yields 4 servings