Peppery rocket isn't just for salads

The peppery green leaves aren't only for salad, as Rachel makes pesto, bruschetta and even beef carpaccio.

 
I first learned to cook in the early 90s. I remember the excitement at the influx of new ingredients that we view as commonplace today. Flat-leaf parsley, sun-dried tomatoes and especially olive oil, added extra dimensions to our cooking. We fell in love with the bold, rustic flavours of the Mediterranean. So, too, began the stratospheric rise in popularity of the leafy green known as rocket.
 
It's hard to remember a time when rocket wasn't as ubiquitous as it is today. It appears in bags on supermarket shelves, and seemingly, on every restaurant menu too - not that I'm complaining that something so delicious is so easily available!
 
Rocket isn't as dramatically bitter as some of the more extreme salad greens, but it still has some bitterness and that wonderful pepperiness. It is a deliciously assertive flavour to use in a salad.
 
Rocket comes in two guises. There is standard or cultivated rocket, which is labelled simply "rocket". There is also wild rocket, which has thinner leaves and a more pronounced peppery flavour. It's sometimes worth mixing the two together. A salad of only wild rocket 
is a bracing experience that isn't, perhaps, for everyone. I reckon that the 
stronger-tasting and more bitter that greens are, the better they are for you. This is especially true with rocket. 
It's rich in potassium, so when people 
tell you to eat your greens, this is what 
they mean!
 
Its distinctive flavour makes for a versatile ingredient, and not just for salads. Rocket pesto is a divine alternative to basil, and its slight bitterness works well with walnuts. Try it on pasta, or with some fried halloumi on toast. If you don't want to go to the trouble of making pesto, try the Italian dish cavatieddi, which is simply pasta with some thick tomato sauce, pecorino and lots of finely chopped rocket.
 

Rocket Recipes: 

 

Shaneod Sep 01, 2014 News