Otherwise know as rucola or roquette, rocket belongs to the Brassicaceae family, more commonly referred to as the cabbage family. This dark green leaf of Mediterranean origin has long been associated with British soils, with records showing a dependency on this nutritious plant stretching back to Elizabethan times.
Rocket is particularly easy to grow, traditionally found growing in the wild or in domestic gardens alongside herbs such as parsley and basil. With its peppery and slightly bitter flavour, leaves are best when they are still young making a great addition to salads and leafy garnishes. Although typically eaten raw, rocket piquant palate makes it an interesting supplement in pesto and sauces.
Seasonal period: April to November
Flavour friends: Due to its bittersweet, peppery palate, rocket works with both sweet and salty flavours as well as acidity – its robust nature means it can handle dominant ingredients such as lemon, parmesan and anchovies particularly well. Rocket’s iron rich flavour also means it is a particularly good match to spinach and watercress in a peppery salad, or as a leafy garnish to red meat.
Buying, storing and preparing: Leaves must be dark green in colour and appear vibrant and perky – any sign of browning or discolouration and the leaves are beginning to deteriorate. Store in the salad draw of the fridge in a brown paper bag and consume within a couple of days. Simply prepared the leaves by gently rinsing in cold water and pat dry.
Cooking: Rocket leaves are traditionally eaten raw, added to salads or used a garnish. Leaves however are nice wilted through pasta sauces or as a stuffing for meat. See below for ideas.
How To Grow Rocket
Words by Helen Upshall