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Wednesday, October 6, 2010



Rocket or Arugula in American English is known as a salad vegetable which can be used as a substitute for lettuce. It has a nutty flavour, if you use young leaves, and they are good with a dressing of walnut oil. If the older mature leaves are used, they have a slightly bitter flavour and go well with a traditional vinaigrette dressing (white wine vinegar, olive oil and a mixture of herbs or just the herb of your choice). Rocket is usually used in Caesar Salads, and is great with all kinds of cheeses especially goats' cheese and gorgonzola. You can also steam rocket like spinach and use as a vegetable with others. The Italians love rocket and put it in meat sauces and with meats. A simple recipe is to spread rocket leaves with cream cheese and slivers of smoked salmon, roll them up and serve on a bed of rocket leaves. Its seeds can be used in cookery as a substitute for mustard seeds.
flower of rocket

It is native to the Mediterranean area and Central Europe and is naturalized in the US. The name ‘eruca’ is Latin for cabbage and it is related to the Brassica family.

The Romans used rocket mixed with other herbs they considered had aphrodisiacal qualities, such as lavender and dill, and put them in special sauces. They served the leaves as a salad with chicory and lettuce. It was believed that rocket increased sexual potency. The ancient Egyptians would give it to bridegrooms on their wedding night. The seeds and their oil have been used as an aphrodisiac at least since the first century AD.

Rocket is a great source of iron, potassium, magnesium, calcium, beta-carotene, sodium, dietary fibre and vitamins A, B, C and E. Modern medical research has shown that the constituents of Eruca sativa can cure gastric ulcers, and this is one of the many complaints it has been treating for millennia in the subcontinent. It is also known to reduce the secretion of stomach acids and it also mediates the activity of hormones. The volatile oil distilled from the seeds contains nitrogen and sulphur. It has anti microbial properties and is an antiscorbutic. A strong dose of the oil will induce vomiting.

In traditional medicine on the Indian subcontinent is used to cure erectile dysfunctions and is said to decrease stress, so is given to women too to increase their libido. It is also believed to help in the treatment of liver disorders and diabetes. It can also stop a cough apparently. It is a diuretic, and also a laxative, so don’t take too much oil! A teaspoon or two a day won’t hurt though.

In Pakistan and India the oil known as Tara Mera and used to kill head lice, and mixed with water is massaged into the scalp to get rid of dandruff, to strengthen the hair and to prevent hair loss. It is suggested that as well as using the oil externally you should take a teaspoon a day to help with hair problems and as a general tonic. You can use it as a salad dressing too, as it stimulates the digestive system.

The flower is white or purple, and is a symbol of deceit in the Language of Flowers because it has no scent by day, but at night gives off a perfume. The ancients called it the Vesper flower or Hesperis.

1 bunch of well-washed rocket, torn
1 tbsp capers
200 gr Parmesan, thinly sliced
300 gr tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 cucumber, roughly chopped
green and black olives, or stuffed green olives with pimento
balsamic vinegar
olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


Mix all the ingredients together and toss well before serving

This has Taste and is a Treat.


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