Arugula Flowers: Your Salad Just Got Better Looking

May  3, 2013

Every week we get Down & Dirty, in which we break down our favorite unique seasonal fruits, vegetables, and more.

Today: We're talking about arugula flowers, an edible flower with a peppery bite—perfect for adorning all of your spring dishes.

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We know you’re familiar with arugula, and you probably remember that once arugula has bolted, the leaves become quite bitter—at that point, they're best suited to being cooked. Though there is an upside to a lack of leaves for your salad: arugula flowers. There are dozens of types of edible flowers, but arugula flowers are arguably one of the prettiest (until we fall under the spell of the next type to appear at the market, that is). They don't have nasturtiums’ showy colors, but they're subtle standouts nonetheless. They have white or cream-colored petals, with deep purple veins, and the blossoms are a little nutty and a little peppery—just like arugula leaves.

Look for arugula flowers at your farmers market throughout the spring and summer. They might be hard to find—but if domenicacooks and MrsWheelbarrow can find them, we hope you can too. Keep your eyes peeled! After you procure them, use them quickly, as they are extremely perishable. Even a day makes a difference, as they wilt (1) quickly. 

Embellish everything in sight with your arugula flowers: green salad, pasta, soup. Arugula flowers also pair nicely with eggs. Use them to top a frittata, a quiche, an egg sandwich, or follow Deborah Madison’s lead and pair them with hard-cooked eggs in a salad, then dress it with walnut oil and red wine vinegar. Use them every day of the week! For recipes below that don’t specifically call for arugula flowers, just garnish away.

Saturday: Potato and Arugula Flower Parathas
Sunday: Soft Scrambled Eggs
Monday: Roasted Beet & Blood Orange Salad with Arugula Flowers
Tuesday: Frittata with Spring Greens, Parmesan, and Pancetta
Wednesday: Vibrant Spring Socca
Thursday: Prosciutto and Fontina Panini with Arugula Pesto (Try this as an open-faced sandwich instead of pressing it to show off a sprinkling of blooms.)
Friday: Asparagus and Arugula Pizza with Vegan Pesto

Photos by James Ransom

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Jennifer Piette
    Jennifer Piette
  • gingerroot
  • em-i-lis
  • Panfusine
  • k.woody
I like esoteric facts about vegetables. Author of the IACP Award-nominated cookbook, Cooking with Scraps.


Jennifer P. May 6, 2013
THanks for linking to our recipe (Roasted Beet and Blood Orange Salad with Arugula Flowers) -- we have sourced beautiful ones from the wonderful farm Earthtrine. BD, the farmer, is based in OJai and has plots of land in Ojai and Carpinteria. You can find him @ the Santa Barbara and Ojai farmers markets. Or if you live in LA, we include his herbs in our Boxes every week -- his motto is EAT WEEDS, lol!
gingerroot May 4, 2013
My son's garden at school is full of arugula blooms, I will have to see if I can pick some. Bok choy flowers are my current favorite - they are sweetly fragrant yellow blooms attached to a thin green stalk (that reminded me of broccolini). Favorite preparations include braised with carrots and turnips in miso, sesame and lime and as an addition to okonomiyaki.
em-i-lis May 4, 2013
SO helpful!! i've got a ton of these outside and mistakenly assumed they meant my arugula was bolting already! Thank you!
Lindsay-Jean H. May 6, 2013
I'm afraid your arugula has bolted -- but hey, you've got arugula flowers!!
Panfusine May 3, 2013
wow.. just spotted one in my vegetable patch among my mesclun salad greens, wasn't sure what it was until I read this .. THANKS!
Lindsay-Jean H. May 3, 2013
Hooray for all of the arugula flower sightings!
k.woody May 3, 2013
We have been seeing loads of arugula flowers at the Ferry Plaza farmers' market in SF! Also beautiful are kale flowers. Have you seen them? They taste a bit like broccoli rabe and they are the deepest deepest purple. Just blogged about arugula flowers last week on!

thanks for this post Food52! the photos are lovely.
Lindsay-Jean H. May 3, 2013
No, I haven't - I'll have to try and overwinter my kale this year, and your photos are lovely too!
Veronica F. May 3, 2013
Even better if the arugula you're growing bolts, flowers, and then starts to set pods! They're crunchy and hot like radish pods, only smaller. So yummy!
Lindsay-Jean H. May 3, 2013
Sounds delicious!
hardlikearmour May 3, 2013
Cool! I'm always sad when my arugula bolts -- at least I now have an upside. I'm partial to rosemary flowers & borage flowers -- both have a lovely flavor (rosemary as expected, and borage much like cucumber), and both are lovely shades of blue.
Lindsay-Jean H. May 3, 2013
So many lovely edible flowers. I want to try borage flowers - perhaps floated in a Pimm's Cup!
mrslarkin May 3, 2013
omg i wish i saw this last week when i picked a boatload of my dad's bolted arugula (and bolted radicchio!) Surprisingly, the arugula was not bitter, but the radicchio was very bitter. I've been having a bitter greens and onion salad for lunch every day. I did munch on some of the arugula blooms and they are VERY tasty!
Lindsay-Jean H. May 3, 2013
Oh bummer - I'm glad you still got to snack on a few of them though!