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Rocket

The characteristics of this vegetable

One of the most adored plant species in the kitchen is the rocket. It’s usually used to make easy but tasty salads; it’s also frequently used as a sauce for pizza and pasta, maybe with some speck and parmesan cheese mixed in. In addition, rocket ripens and grows wild, especially in the spring and summer. The rocket, which is gathered in July, is the most popular variety.

It has a strong flavour and is capable of enhancing dishes without covering the other scents. It is also valued for its incredibly potent nutritional value. The reference is to the presence of vitamin C, iron, and calcium. Rocket also contains a certain amount of antioxidants, such as the very precious beta-carotene. Finally, significant concentrations of sulforaphane are noted, an important substance with anti-carcinogenic effects.

Rocket varieties and their properties

As a matter of fact, the plant species is relatively homogeneous; very few variants have been documented. Naturally, no two rockets are exactly the same; they all have different qualities, shades, and flavour yields. However, only two macrotypes—the cultivated and the wild—are recognised from a botanical perspective.

  • Cultivated. Cultivated rocket is the most consumed of all. It is generally characterised by slightly larger, lighter leaves and a more delicate flavour.
  • Wild. The wild variant is characterised by smaller leaves, a darker colour, and a slightly bitter flavour. Actually, there is a wild rocket subvariant known as the wild rocket with olive leaves. Although the leaves in this instance are marginally smaller rather than lobed, there are no noticeable variations from an organoleptic perspective.

How is rocket cooked? Some first-course ideas

Rocket is a very versatile food that lends itself to the preparation of first courses, second courses, and side dishes. In this regard, I’ll list some recipes that really impressed me; the details are available on our website.

Spaghetti with salmon and rocket. Apparently, it looks like the classic tomato pasta dish; however, the basil is replaced by rocket, which is placed at the end as a garnish. The outcome is superb, with the delicate tomato contrasting with the aromatic rocket. Salmon plays a significant part as well, contributing some flavour and protein.

Trofie pasta with a rocket and speck. It is a first course that may only appear more complex, but in reality, it is very simple to make. One of the most effective pairings is that of speck and rocket, which creates a first course that is both visually appealing and tasty.

White pizza topped with rocket. This pizza variation is similar to regular pizza, but instead of tomatoes, it has a bunch of aromatic ingredients, including rocket, bresaola, and mushrooms. This pleasant variation can be consumed as a snack, as an appetiser (if well portioned), or as a real meal.

Wheat with rocket pesto. In this rustic first course, rocket appears in the form of pesto sauce. Preparing this pesto sauce is very simple; just follow the original recipe and add this interesting aromatic herb. The flavour of this type of pesto is more aromatic than usual and slightly bitter, making it ideal to combine with the full-bodied and rustic flavours of wheat and pesto.

A brief overview of the main courses and side dishes

Given its nature as an aromatic vegetable, rocket is also suitable for the preparation of second courses and side dishes. Here are some ideas that struck me from a gustatory, aesthetic, and nutritional point of view:

Bresaola tartare with rocket. The recipe is very innovative, as it treats the bresaola as if it were raw meat. The salami is cut into cubes, compacted, and “marinated” with oil, mustard, and lemon juice. The rocket comes in second, during the abundant garnishing phase, and impacts both the aesthetic result (with its intense green colour) and the taste.

Salad with boiled eggs and rocket. It is a very rich and complete side dish; in fact, it includes the protein element (provided by eggs) and fruit (raspberries and blueberries). The base is provided by rocket leaves, which serve as the perfect salad vegetable.

Mixed salad with raspberries. Another very interesting salad, made with raspberries. Rocket leaves serve as the base, which is enhanced by ricotta and other vegetables such as songino and spinach.

Rocket and its health benefits

Rocket is not only a resource in the kitchen, but it is also a vegetable that is good for your health as it has interesting beneficial properties and is capable of benefiting multiple organs.

First of all, rocket is a rich source of vitamins that are good for the immune system. The reference is to vitamin C, which helps the body absorb iron.

Furthermore, the properties of rocket make it a preventive factor against cancer. In fact, this plant is rich in antioxidants such as beta-carotene, which is rarely present in some green leafy vegetables. Beta-carotene also helps absorb vitamin A, which is essential for skin and vision.

Finally, the abundant quantity of minerals, including calcium, in this aromatic plant helps to maintain the body’s energy levels.

Possible contraindications

Does rocket have any side effects? The question might sound strange, especially in relation to a vegetable that, as we have seen, is beneficial. In reality, the side effects are linked to excessive consumption, which is a concern for vegetables in general. Those who consume excessive doses of rocket, perhaps exceeding half a kilo, could suffer from gastrointestinal problems due to the extraordinary abundance of fibre.

There are generally very few contraindications associated with this aromatic herb. Due to the excellent supply of vitamin K, which affects blood density, there is at most a slight incompatibility with individuals who use anticoagulant therapy (used to treat high blood pressure).

Regarding allergies, there haven’t been any specific issues mentioned. Given that it contains high concentrations of nickel, it is obvious that people who are allergic to or intolerant of nickel should not consume it.

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