[Photograph: Simon Wheeler]

As Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall grumbles in River Cottage Veg, arugula has become too popular for its own good. The bitter green has become so ubiquitous in salad mixes that it's hard to appreciate arugula's ability to support a salad on its own. Fearnley-Whittingstall's arugula-fennel-lentil salad is an attempt to celebrate the green on its own merit. Earthy lentils and the crunchy, anise notes of fennel do indeed balance the peppery lettuce, and bright lemon zest enlivens the mix.

Why I picked this recipe: I am guilty of overlooking arugula leaves; here was a good opportunity to right that wrong.

What worked: The three main components worked wonderfully together, giving me a bite of bitter, earthy, and anise-sweet in every bite.

What didn't: The dressing wasn't acidic enough for my taste. Instead of a 4:1 ratio of oil to lemon juice, I'd drop the oil back to something more like 3:1, or even closer to 2:1. The lentils can take it. I'd also add salt to the cooking liquid for the beans.

Suggested tweaks: You could use any type of lentils or tiny legume that hold their shape when cooked (skip the red or yellow types). If fennel isn't your thing, you could try thinly sliced celery in its place.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of River Cottage Veg to give away this week.

About the author: Kate Williams is a freelance writer and personal chef living in Berkeley, CA. She is a contributor to The Oxford American, Berkeleyside NOSH, and blogs at cookingwolves.wordpress.com.

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