Ingredient of the Week: Rocket
Rocket is a cruciferous vegetable like cauliflower, kale and broccoli. It is a typically “English” salad leaf vegetable, even though it originates in the Mediterranean. It is available all year round and is very easy to grow. In fact if you aren’t careful it will take over your vegetable patch. Other names for it include rucola or arugula. It has a fairly bitter taste, often described as peppery and is dark green in colour. It has a very distinct smell and I can always detect when it has been added to a dish.
Why is it good for me?
Firstly rocket is vertually calorie free and so including it in a meal doesn’t add any calories to your daily intake. It is however extremely nutrient dense. There is a scale called the aggregate nutrient density index, which rates foods on their nutrient density or the amount of micronutrients each food contains, relative to their calorie content. Rocket is rated within the top 10, as well as kale and spinach.
Rocket is a good source of vitamin A, as like carrots, it contains good levels of beta carotene, beneficial for maintaining healthy eyes and vision in low lighting. Lutein and zeaxanthin are another two nutrients found in rocket, which benefit eye health in your later, life as they slow down age related degeneration of the macular in the eye.
Other vitamins and minerals that rocket is a good source of include calcium, needed to keep bones, teeth and muscles strong and healthy. Potassium, needed for a healthy functioning hear,t as well as maintaining hydration in the body and aiding with normal muscular contractions. Vitamin C, helping to fight disease and infection, while also acting as an antioxidant protecting against oxidative damage to cells and helping maximise iron uptake by the body. Folate which is needed for nerve development and function and vitamin K, which helps blood to clot and wounds to heal are two more nutrients that rocket contains.
How do I prepare it?
Rocket requires minimal preparation. Most often it comes ready washed in a bag so that all you need to do is add and go, but if it is freshly picked it will first need rinsing.
How do I cook it?
Rocket is best eaten raw. It makes a tasty addition to any salad or added in a wrap or sandwich. It can be sprinkled over many pasta, risotto or pizza dishes to add texture and extra vegetables to a meal. Bacon, tomato, avocado and rocket are a really classic combination. Dressed with pesto and mixed through some cooked pasta makes a quick and healthy, filling salad. Try mixing it with other salad leaves, such as spinach or water cress to make it more interesting. Some people find it’s strong taste overpowering and so this helps with that.
Some other recipe suggestions include this smoked coley rice salad, this chicken and spring vegetable resotto or this miso salmon, tenderstem and quinoa salad. I think it partners really well with smoked salmon, like in this smoked salmon and egg on potato cakes recipe or this smoked salmon sushi salad. If you are looking for a vegetarian recipe that includes rocket, then this griddled asparagus, pea and quinoa salad tastes great.
Rocket is an extremely easy vegetable to include in your diet. One other perk to including it in a meal is that it’s bitterness is believed to help stimulate your metabolism to work faster and digest food quicker. Next time you feel guilty for ordering that pizza, smother it in rocket leaves and feel that much better. If you have any recipe suggestions for rocket then please do share.
Thank you for reading and speak soon.