Want to add a peppery punch to your salads? Spruce them up with a little rocket (Eruca sativa)! It’s one of the fastest-growing leafy greens, and you can plant it in the garden or in pots. Rocket is best sown in spring or autumn (it can tolerate the cold) and will be ready for harvesting in just six to seven weeks – you can even eat the baby leaves after about two weeks. It tastes best when harvested young, so keep nipping off the leafy growth and you’ll have rich pickings. Its spicy flavour makes it perfect for livening up any salad – simply follow our guide to sowing the seeds, then use a couple of bunches to make the delicious Rocket, Pear and Blue Cheese Salad (see recipe, below).

How to sow rocket seeds

Step 1 Choose a spot in your garden that’s sunny and make sure soil is well draining. Before you plant rocket seeds, dig in some fine compost and a little fertiliser to prepare soil.

Step 2 Mark out a row about 3mm deep and 1-2m long. Carefully sow rocket seeds in a thin line along row, spacing out

as evenly as possible. Cover lightly with seed raising mix (available in bags), then press down and keep soil moist. Planting seeds every few weeks will ensure you have a continuous supply.

Step 3 Fertilise weekly with a complete liquid plant food such as Yates Thrive Soluble All Purpose Plant Food or Seasol PowerFeed for Vegies.

Step 4 Cut back plants to ground level once they’re full sized – about 7-8 weeks after planting. This encourages new shoots to grow. Feed again with a liquid fertiliser to promote vigorous growth and more harvests.

Growing Rocket – How to Grow Rocket

How to Grow Rocket – A Brief Guide to Growing Rocket

Rocket

Rocket is a hardy salad leaf, producing a good crop of peppery leaves. It is quick and easy to grow in pots or in the soil, and in a frame or greenhouse for clean winter salad.

Sowing and Growing Rocket

  • Rocket will grow in any reasonable, well drained soil in a sun or semi-shade.
  • Early sowings can be made under glass as early as February to provide an early salad crop.
  • Sow thinly under glass or outdoors from April through to September.
  • Once the seedlings are large enough, thin to around 10cm (4 inches) apart and keep well-watered, particularly in hot, dry weather.
  • To prevent the plants running to seed, pinch out any flower buds and keep the plants moist. Provide some shade during particularly sunny, hot weather.
  • However, rocket will happily self-seed so you may want to leave some plants to flower and set-seed.
  • With some protection (in a cool greenhouse or under a cloche or garden fleece), a late sowing will provide you with leaves over winter.

Harvesting Rocket

  • Harvest as a cut-and-come-again crop, by nipping off what you require as soon as the leaves are large enough and leaving the plants to grow on and produce pickings for weeks.
  • The leaves are delicious raw in a salad and can be wilted on top of a cooked dish as a garnish or vegetable, or stirred through pasta.
  • The young, fresh, leaves have a milder flavour.
  • You could try our delicious Rocket and Courgette Soup.
  • If some of your rocket plants do run to seed, the flowers can be used as an edible garnish (and bees love them).

Pests and Problems

  • Be sure to thin the seedlings. If left to grow too close together they tend to run to seed.
  • Keep well watered, particularly in hot, dry weather, or the plants will taste very bitter and bolt.
  • Flea beetles tend to cause the most damage to plants, nibbling holes in the leaves, making them look unsightly. Try growing under fleece to prevent this.

Varieties of Rocket

  • Wild rocket has deeply divided leaves and a much stronger flavour than the normal salad rocket
  • The seeds are often included in cut-and-come-again seed mixes
  • You can find different varieties of rocket seeds and compare them in our allotment shop
  • Skyrocket – Combines the speed of Salad Rocket and the flavour of Wild Rocket. An upright habit, so keeps the attractive serrated leaves clean and disease free. Pungency increases as the plants develop.
  • Pegasus Seeds – A new rocket variety with superb vigour and a wonderful peppery taste. Bred in Britain, its bolt-resistance makes it perfect for growing and cutting during our long summer days as it will not easily run to seed even in hot, dry conditions. Pick the outer leaves regularly, as a cut-and-come-again crop

Further Information on Rocket

Recipes Using Rocket

  • No feed items at this time. Please check back later.

Rocket Seed & Plants

  • Rocket from the Allotment Shop
  • Rocket with the Award of Garden Merit

Varieties that have won the RHS Award of Garden Merit will generally give consistent good results

8 tips for growing and harvesting rocket (arugula)

Rocket can be grown year-round, although the cooler temperatures in spring and autumn produce the best crops.

Words: Jenny Somervell

You can almost overlook rocket when it’s hidden amongst mild, crunchy mesclun greens.

Until you strike that sudden peppery ‘bite’. At least, that’s how I discovered it. It gives the biter pause.

In my teenage years, rocket was unheard of. Like many interesting new greens, it came sneaking in on the salad revolution in the mid-1980s, wisely appearing undercover at first in the guise of mesclun greens.

Forty-plus years later, rocket is indispensable in my garden as a cool weather green and a mesclun salad is not the same without it. It adds a sharp, piquant spice which enlivens milder greens like lettuce. It is the ‘pepper’ and ‘nutty’ complement to the bitter-neutral-sweet flavour mix.

But you don’t need to confine rocket to salads. Like other leafy greens, it can be incorporated into pastas, casseroles, and sauces, adding the same (or greater) nutritional benefits, but with more flavour. Rocket will sauté faster than its tougher cousins kale and collard greens because of its tenderness. It adds a delicious bite added on top of pizza, Italian-style, after cooking.

The Italians love rocket (rucola or arugula). They have used it for two millennia and have never seen a reason to dilute its peppery bite. A spring treat is a salad of rocket dressed solely with extra-virgin olive oil, salt and lemon wedges for squeezing over the leaves.

Why it’s one of the superfood heroes
Rocket may be renowned for its bite, but it’s also in the top 20 foods for its Aggregate Nutrient Density Index score. This measures the vitamin, mineral
and phytonutrient content relative to calorie content.

Two cups (40g) of rocket – admittedly quite a bit – will provide 20 percent of your vitamin A, over 50 percent of vitamin K, and 8 percent of vitamin C, folate and calcium needs for the day, plus it’s rich in antioxidants. All this in just a miniscule 10 calories.

Rocket – Eruca sativa

Rocket
Eruca sativa
Also known as: arugula, rucola, roquette

Rocket is a native of the Mediterranean and western Asia, and a popular salad herb since Roman times. It is often found growing wild in many European countries and in other parts of the world including the southern USA, South Africa and Australia.

All parts of rocket – leaves, flowers and seeds – can be used. The Romans liked the tasty seeds as much as the leaf. When crushed and mixed with cold water, they act in a similar way to mustard, producing hot-tasting sulphur compounds.

In England rocket was cultivated for salads in the Tudor and Stewart periods and was seen as valuable in applying the hot-cold, wet-dry principle. Rocket being hot and dry, was seen as the perfect foil to cold, wet lettuce, and who could argue with that?

Sadly, it fell off the menu in England and colonial America in the18th century due to its ‘strong, ungrateful smell’.

But ethnic groups continued to enjoy rocket’s pungent flavour. Migrating Italians brought their traditional rucola with them to America and Australia where it was picked up by the salad revolution. Lucky for us!

Medicinally, rocket was eaten as a source of vitamin C and as a tonic, to ease stomach complaints and as a diuretic.

Eruca sativaDiplotaxis tenuifolia

Mixing up your rockets
Confusion can arise over species as the same common names may be used for annual and perennial forms.

The rocket most often cultivated and used in salads is the annual, known as Eruca sativa (syn. E. versicaria subsp sativa), variously known as arugula, rucola or roquette.

A perennial form, Diplotaxis tenuifolia, is often gathered in the wild in Italy. It is also referred to as Italian wild arugula, rustic arugula and perennial wall rocket. It’s slower growing than the annual type and favoured by some for its stronger flavour and richer nutrient content.

Confusingly, both species may also be called ruchetta, and the perennial species is best treated as an annual as it develops deep roots underground that will take over if allowed to spread.

Lots of watering and a little shade prolong harvest

Rocket for life
Once established, rocket is very hard to get rid of. It’s not quite as bad as horseradish but it’s close. My first plant eventually took over a garden, and the seedlings are also invasive.

Rocket is also a good name for this fast-growing herbal vegetable. In a rich, deep, moisture-retentive soil, it literally rockets away. These are the conditions it needs for salad growing, where it will grow long, lush, toothed basal leaves for about a month, with the first pickings available in just a few weeks.

Regular picking delays flower formation, but eventually it will shoot to flower with a long 75cm stem. The four-petalled flowers are in the shape of a cross and are yellowish or cream, with deep violet veins.

In hot, dry soil rocket is more restrained. It may grow to just 20cm, concentrating its strong oils with a pronounced/strong hot, peppery flavour, and then send up an erect flower stem. This is when it is gathered for medicinal purposes.

Rocket can be grown year-round, although the cooler temperatures in spring and autumn produce the best crops. It’s easy to germinate and quick to grow, great for filling the ‘greens gap’ in the cooler seasons, yielding thick prolific greens within weeks.

Rocket can be grown in the smallest of gardens, or even in a pot in a windowsill, as it will tolerate low light. Here in inland Canterbury, I find rocket an excellent choice for growing in our greenhouse over winter and into spring. If you don’t have a greenhouse, cloches or plastic-pipe hoops covered in frost cloth will do.

In warm-temperate and subtropical climates it is better as an autumn or winter crop, as spring-sown crops tend to run to seed. In warmer weather, it is best treated as a cut and come again crop. Lots of watering and a little shade can prolong harvest.

In the language of flowers, rocket has been taken to represent deceit because it sends out a lovely perfume in the evening, which disappears in the daytime

8 TIPS FOR GROWING AND HARVESTING ROCKET

• Before sowing, enrich soil with organic matter or well-rotted manure.
• The ideal temperature for germination is 15-20°C, but rocket will germinate down to 5°C. Direct sowing is preferred, as the long thin taproot does not transplant well.
• My seeds always strike far too well, resulting in masses of seedlings, perhaps something to do with me not being able to see them without glasses.
• The seed is fine, and it is easy to over-sow. This isn’t really a problem as long as you remember to thin them. Un-thinned, they can become weak and spindly, and can rot or bruise more easily on picking. Thin successively to 2cm apart, then to 10-15cm and finally 20cm when plants are well established. The thinned seedlings make delicious tender additions to salads.
• Plants should be kept growing rapidly with plenty of moisture and occasional liquid feeding. Pests and diseases are rarely a problem – perhaps it’s a tad hot for them!
• The degree of ‘pepperiness’ of the leaves depends on their age, so start harvest early when the leaves are small, just 7-10cm. These can be cut or whole plants pulled for the salad bowl. The flowering stem should be removed as soon as it appears, as the leaves will quickly become hot and strong.
• Plants respond well to being cut right back to a short stump (2cm) producing fresh crops of leaves.
• The leaves can bruise easily, so harvest and wash them carefully and spin or pat dry. Once picked, they will store in a covered container or plastic bag in the fridge for several days.

6+ WAYS TO USE ROCKET
• Add a handful of fresh arugula to an omelette, scrambled eggs, pasta or rice just before serving for a peppery bite.
• Sauté arugula in a small amount of extra-virgin olive oil and season with freshly-ground black pepper and freshly-grated Parmesan cheese. Eat as a side dish or top your baked potato.
• Older leaves can be added to soups, stews and curries.
• Add to your wrap, sandwich, or flatbread.
• Rocket goes well with a robust vinaigrette using fruity olive oil, red wine, sherry or balsamic vinegar.
• Good companions include walnuts, oranges, fresh or roasted peppers, red onion, garlic, parmesan, feta, strong-flavoured cheese, mustard, olives, tomatoes and mushrooms.

RECIPE: MEDITERRANEAN-STYLE ROCKET SALAD
Serves 2-3
From Mary Browne, Helen Leach and Nancy Tichborne, The Cook’s Salad Garden Revisited

INGREDIENTS
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
1 clove garlic, very finely chopped
¼ tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper
rocket leaves (torn), enough to fill a serving platter
½ small red-skinned onion,
sliced into very fine rings
1 avocado, peeled and cut into slices
¼ cup black olives, stones removed
6 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
chives, scissored
parsley, finely chopped
Parmesan shavings to garnish (use a potato peeler)

METHOD
In a small bowl combine all the dressing ingredients. Arrange the avocado, olives, and tomatoes on top of the rocket leaves. Pour the dressing over the salad. Top with the herbs and Parmesan shavings. Serve immediately.

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This article first appeared in NZ Lifestyle Block Magazine. Discuss This Article

Arugula nutrition facts

Health benefits of Arugula

  1. As in other greens, arugula also is one of the very low-calorie vegetables. 100 g of fresh leaves hold just 25 calories. Nonetheless, it has many vital phytochemicals, anti-oxidants, vitamins, and minerals that may immensely benefit health.

  2. Salad rocket has the ORAC value (oxygen radical absorbance capacity, a measure of antioxidant strength) of about 1904 µmol TE per 100 grams.

  3. Being a member of the Brassica family, arugula greens are rich sources of certain phytochemicals such as indoles, thiocyanates, sulforaphane, and iso­thiocyanates. Together, these compounds have been found to counter carcinogenic effects of estrogen and thus may offer protection against prostate, breast, cervical, colon, ovarian cancers by their cancer-cell growth inhibition, cytotoxic effects on cancer cells.

  4. Further, Di-indolyl-methane (DIM), a lipid-soluble metabolite of indole, has the immune modulator, anti-bacterial, and anti-viral properties (by potentiating Interferon-Gamma receptors). DIM has currently been found application in the treatment of recurring respiratory papillomatosis caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and is in Phase-III clinical trials for cervical dysplasia.

  5. Fresh salad rocket is one of the greens rich in folates. 100 g of fresh greens contain 97 µg or 24% of folic acid. When given to the anticipant mothers during their conception time, folate may help prevent neural tube defects in the newborns.

  6. Like as in kale, salad rocket is an excellent source of vitamin A. 100 g fresh leaves contain 1424 µg of beta-carotene, and 2373 IU of vitamin A. Carotenes convert into vitamin-A in the body. Studies found that vitamin A and flavonoid compounds in green leafy vegetables help humans protected from skin, lung and oral cavity cancers.

  7. This vegetable also an excellent sources of the B-complex group of vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), and pantothenic acid those are essential for optimum cellular enzymatic and metabolic functions.

  8. Fresh rocket leaves contain healthy levels of vitamin-C. Vitamin-C is a powerful, natural anti-oxidant. Foods rich in this vitamin help the human body protect from scurvy disease, develop resistance against infectious agents (boosts immunity), and scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals from the body.

  9. Salad rocket is one of the excellent vegetable sources for vitamin-K; 100 g provides about 90% of recommended intake. Vitamin K has a potential role in bone health by promoting osteotropic (bone formation and strengthening) activity. Adequate amounts of dietary vitamin-K levels help to limit neuronal damage in the brain. It thus has an established role in the treatment of patients who have Alzheimer’s disease.

  10. Its leaves contain adequate levels of minerals, especially copper and iron. Also, it has small amounts of some other essential minerals and electrolytes such as calcium, iron, potassium, manganese, and phosphorus.

Sky’s the limit for rocket: Growing your own salad leaves is an easy route to cleaner eating

Growing your own salad leaves is an easy route to cleaner eating, writes Fiann Ó Nualláin.

I am a big fan of growing your own salad leaves — it’s easy, it’s rewarding and best of all, you know what’s on your plate or in your sandwich is not laden with chemicals. Salad leaves are

perennially on the “dirty dozen” list; that’s a compilation of food ranked highest in pesticide residue levels. Growing your own means cleaner, healthier eating and less harm to the planet.

April is the perfect month to being starting all those salad plants you will be looking for come summer but it is especially prime for one of my favourites — rocket. There are two types, cultivated and wild, and both are readily available in your local garden centre in seed if not plugs right now. Both are probably in your nearest deli — if you fancy a taste test before you pick which.

The wild varieties can be a little more peppery but are just as easy to cultivate as the cultivated varieties. Both are rich in alpha-lipoic acid (ALA), which is losing its potency in other garden greens due to selective breeding for shelf life or other commercial traits. In humans, ALA is involved in preventing oxidative stress, assisting enzymes that turn nutrients into energy and has a role in insulin sensitivity and neuro-regeneration. We only manage a small amount so a salad rich in it is a handy one to have at hand.

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Salad rocket (Eruca vesicaria) can be sown direct to where you want it to grow or started in a seed tray this weekend and successionally sown over the next few months to keep you in ample supply. Sow singly at 6mm deep, with around 5cm spacing. You will eventually thin to 20-25cm, but those thinnings are good to think of as microgreens rather than discards, being nutritionally dense.

I have various self-seeded clumps about the garden that I rarely sow fresh any more. This practice favours my not-overly-sunny site. It might do the same for yours.

If you are starting today, then germination will have taken place before next week’s article. The seeds don’t need a specific heat, they will just come along within a week of sowing.

They like a fertile enough site but are not hungry feeders. I find a homemade (nettle and comfrey) liquid feed a few weeks in is enough.You don’t want to activate over-growth and have too sweet a leaf — this plant is grown as a spicy addition. It doesn’t suffer pests and diseases too readily, only if under stress from drought or unseasonable weather.

Slugs generally keep clear but may munch seedlings. Flea beetles can be an issue too but a garlic spray resolves both those culprits and also boosts some of the healing constituents within the foliage. More on that later.

Wild rocket (Diplotaxis Sylvetta or D. tenuifolia) is more noticeably serrated of leaf and often with a more biting flavour too. It can be sown just as cultivated varieties; to same depth and spacing. Both prefer a well-drained site but don’t like drought. Long gaps without watering can make the foliage bitter or bolt the plant to seed.

Both these annual plants will be harvestable within three-four weeks. They are not hardy, so horticultural fleece around.

September can extend garden life. Both are popular as salad leaves and often included in commercial ready-washed mixes you may pick up in your supermarket.

The younger leaves often have a sweet and nutty flavour, but as they mature, a piquancy develops. They are in the mustard family and their welcome pepper hit has long been admired by chefs and home cooks like myself.

Rockets also have a history as a spinach-like pot herb. I’m not convinced when it comes to using it this way as a regular staple (too thin for my tastes) but if there is a glut it can go in the odd lasagna with the actual spinach. I prefer the raw form as more of the beneficial compounds stay intact. Both types of rocket (and all their cultivars) are packed with folates and Vitamin C that are easily diminished by heat.

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Both rocket types are particularly high in beta carotene for a “green” and like others in the brassica family, they contain indoles and glucosinolates; known cancer-fighting phytochemicals and beneficial in clearing the body of bacterial, and even viral, infections. Glucosinolates are really interesting, they prompt phase II enzymes into action; that’s our detoxifying enzymes that not only work on accumulated toxins within our body from other less clean foods and from environmental pollution but which are said to actively help remove carcinogenic substances from the body.

In laboratory settings, indoles and glucosinolates have been shown to stimulate self-destruction of cancer cells — it argues the case for eating foods that are not only clean (chemical-free) but are cleansing (remove chemicals and toxins from the system). It is not quite a natural chemo but it is another recruited regiment to the battle.

Seed packets often say “grow in a sunny opposition” but when growing at home as an edible, a great tip is to grow in partial shade or to use a shading device in summer to keep the plants cool and slower to go to seed. This maintains and maximises flavour. Rocket is an attractive plant when it does bloom — with creamy, white windmill flowers — and it is a source of food to pollinators.

Letting some plants go to flower and into seed will not only benefit the biodiversity in your garden but can result in some spontaneous self-seeders next year. Varieties you may want to try include ‘Apollo’, ‘Astra’, ‘Pronto’ ‘Runway’ and ‘Sky Rocket’, all fast-growing. Varieties to breed for a more fiery flavour include ‘Scorpion’, ‘Dragon’s Tongue’ and ‘Fireworks’. New cultivars arrive all the time but old or new, it really is a plant that I would recommend — for taste, for health for the sheer delight of growing.

Rocket Leaves(Tara Mira)

Hindi Name: Tara Mira

Rocket leaves or popularly known as arugula or salad rocket is nutritious green-leafy vegetable. The young tender leaves carry a bitter peppery flavor that makes it mostly a salad vegetable.
Rocket leaves have a sweet, nutty flavor when they’re young but start developing a strong spicy flavor as they mature. Rocket leaves are available throughout the year.
It is a quick growing cool season crop. Usually Arugula leaves are ready to harvest within 40 days of sowing the seed. It gains a height of approximately 2-3 ft and bears a creamy white colored flower which is edible. Requires a well watered fertile soil and adequate sunlight.
Usage
The leaves can be eaten either raw or cooked. The pungent odour of the leaves can be cut down by adding lettuce leaves.
In few popular cultures, arugula leaves are eaten raw in salads. A combination of mozzarella cheese with arugula is very popular in Brazil. Rocket leaves are also an essential condiment in pasta in the United States and Mediterranean region.
In West Asia and northern parts of India, the seeds are pressed to extract oil, which is used in pickling and food preservatives.
It combines very well with goat cheese (feta) and is always a good addition in salads, burgers, sandwiches, pastas, pizzas and stews. It can be used as a substitute for Basil. Matches well with: Avocado, olive oil, parmesan cheese, pears, pecans, pine nuts walnuts and garlic.
Nutritional Value

1. Arugula leaves are believed to be a safe and natural treatment for stomach ulcers.
2. Salad rocket is very low in calories and contains high amount of vitamins A and C.
3. The leaves are considered to detoxify enzymes from the body.
4. It is a rich source of minerals, such as copper and iron. It is high in vitamins and anti-oxidants whereas its calorie count is very low.

Tip: While buying, look for young crispy green leaves. Avoid flowered harvest, as its leaves are tough and bitter in taste.
Note:Rocket leaves are prone to absorb a lot of sand, and hence must be thoroughly washed and properly soaked before consuming.

Ingredient Categories: Vegetables | Spices And Herbs | Cereals And Pulses | Meat | Dairy Products | Fruits | Seafood | Sugar And Sugar Products | Nuts And Oilseeds | Other Ingredients

Recipes using Rocket Leaves

  • Lemon Chicken and Rocket Pasta

    A recipe that you can share with your little one. A easy pasta with lime and lemony chicken chunks, fresh rocket leaves, pine nuts and cheese. Recipe Ingredients: chicken, pasta, lemon, garlic

  • Grilled Peach and Papaya Salad with Amaranth Granola

    A delightful salad apt for those balmy sunday brunches. Recipe Ingredients: papaya, balsamic vinegar, white balsamic vinegar, sugar, olive oil, amaranth, honey, paprika, garlic, garlic powder, flaxseeds, sesame, sesame seeds, puffed rice, puffed rice flakes, argula, romaine, sorrel leaves, peach, rocket leaves, cherry tomatoes, o

  • Easter Salad

    A festive salad made with asparagus, red radish, onion shoots, rocket leaves and a citrusy dressing. Recipe Ingredients: Asparagus, Butter, salt, black pepper, Onion, Orange, walnuts, red Wine Vinegar, Olive Oil, Parsley, Sugar, Rocket leaves, radish

  • The Trio of Tomatoes

    Combining roasted tomatoes in balsamic vinegar, tomato juice and cherry tomatoes with white wine to form a tri of tomatoes. Recipe Ingredients: Tomato, cherry tomatoes, tomato puree, gelatin, white wine, salt, rocket leaves, bread, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, coriander seeds, black pepper, garlic, lettuce, parmesan cheese, sea salt, sugar, celery

  • Eggy Bread BLT

    On Travelling Diva, while cooking, eating and shopping in London, Ritu Dalmia shares her version of a BLT sandwich with eggs. BLT is a popular British tea time sandwich which stands for bacon, lettuce and tomatoes. Recipe Ingredients: bacon, mustard seeds, bread, rocket leaves, egg, olive oil, tomato, mayonnaise, salt, black pepper, milk

  • Guava and Cottage Cheese Salad

    An electric mix of rocket leaves, apples, guavas and paneer. This salad is drizzled with a date, tamarind and jaggery dressing. Recipe Ingredients: Guava, Apples, Cottage Cheese, Dates, rocket leaves, salt, black pepper, olive oil, cucumber, jaggery, tamarind

  • Rocket Salad

    A refreshing salad of rocket leaves, watermelons and pomegranate drizzled with a honey-mustard dressing. Recipe Ingredients: Watermelon, Orange Juice, Lemon Juice, Honey, Mustard seeds, Pomegranate, Orange, Black Pepper, salt, Rocket Leaves, Tomato

  • Crunchy Ribbon Salad

    A healthy salad recipe with a light vinegar and oil dressing. Perfect as a side with some roasted meat and garlic bread. Recipe Ingredients: Carrot, Cucumber, Vinegar, Olive Oil, Olives, Mustard Seeds, Black Pepper, Salt, Lettuce, Spring Onion, Rocket Leaves, Onion, cherry tomatoes, white win

  • Cashew Nuts Pesto

    A sharp and nutty sauce of cashews and rocket leaves. This one here is, vibrant, bursting with flavour and extra creamy, thanks to the mix of cashews and avocado.This is good for pasta, of course, but you can also top a plate of sauteed vegetables with this sauce for an interesting twist. A wonderfully simple dish that you can throw together in jus… Recipe Ingredients: rocket leaves, cashew nuts, ginger, olive oil, parmesan cheese

  • Panini with Leftover Chicken

    A fresh and wholesome sandwich with chicken bits, peppers, rocket leaves, an eggplant-tomato chutney and all good things. Recipe Ingredients: Chicken, bread, onion, bell pepper, olive oil, eggplant, jalapeno, mushroom, butter, mozzarella cheese, basil, coriander leaves, rocket leaves, lemon juice, salt, black pepper, tomato, red chilli

Long, long ago (Britain still had miners!) I spent the best part of a year working at a posh greengrocers in the home counties. When the local ladies went shopping on a Saturday – their husbands were all on the golf course or chasing their au pairs round the laundry room – the queues for fruit and veg stretched far down the street. The Housewives of Gerrards Cross loved their dinner parties, and they all wanted mushrooms to stuff for their starters, or icebergs for their prawn salads. My boss, who had a Porsche and a lovely young wife, worked 16 hours a day to meet demand.

I’ll get to the point. Never, in all that time, did I once encounter rocket. This peppery, chewy half-herb, sort-of-salad was popular in Elizabethan days, but fell from favour in the centuries that followed. I don’t know when it became fashionable again, but my guess would be the late 80s. And then most of us called it rucola or arugula, and thought of it as an exotic import.

And yet rocket is simple to cultivate and quite at home in Britain. Sure, it bolts (flowers prematurely) and runs to seed in hot weather – but even then, both the flowers and seeds are edible. As for pests, flea beatles may make holes in the leaves, but these are purely cosmetic. If you expect your veg to look as perfect as it tastes, you shouldn’t be growing it anyway.

You can sow rocket seeds from March to September in the open, and after that under cover. Partial shade is fine, as it will provide some protection from bolting, so this is the perfect crop to fill the space between taller plants. Scatter seeds lightly over well-prepared soil every two or three weeks, water regularly (especially in hot weather) and the first leaves should be ready within a month. When they are about 8-10cm long, you can either cut entire plants (they will resprout) or start harvesting a leaf here and a leaf there. Either way, remove any flower stalks that appear. Once a whole sowing is clearly determined to set seed or the leaves grow too big or peppery, either pull the plants up and start again – or just leave them to self-seed and do the job for you.

Phil Daoust is a food writer based in England and France. Twitter: @philxdaoust

How to Grow Garden Rocket | Guide to Growing Garden Rocket

Harvesting Guide

HARVESTING

Arugula is ready to harvest in 40 days.To harvest Arugula, pick off the outside tender leaves at the base of the plant. Leave the center growing point intact for future harvesting. Discard larger leaves as they tend to get tough and very bitter tasting. Leaves can also taste bitter in warmer weather. Eat fresh or cooked like spinach.

SAVING SEEDS

Your arugula will send up little white flowers with dark veins. Then little seed pods will form along the stem. These can be eaten fresh but beware, they are very spicy – they have a strong radish flavor. Next, the whole plant will start to turn brown. Cut off water at this point and let nature take its course. You may need to support the stems as they dry to keep them from falling over.
What happens next is up to you. Some people cover the stems with old nylon stockings or paper bags to catch the seeds as the pods open. I usually clip the stems and take the pods home when they’re ready. You’ll know they’re ready when you hear a rattling sound when you shake the pods. I hang them upside-down inside a paper bag for a week or so.
Then comes the fun part – threshing. If your seeds are in a bag already, you can shake the bag or stick your hand in the bag and crumble the dried seed pods. You’ll end up with a pile of tiny dark seeds mixed in with papery seed pod chaff. To separate this out, you can do it the old fashioned way, which is to put everything in a shallow pan and blow the chaff off the top of the pile. The seeds weigh more than the chaff, so they will stay put. Another way is to put them in a sieve that has holes bigger than the seeds, but smaller than the chaff and shake.
After you’ve separated out the seeds, you can store them in a zip-lock bag in the refrigerator, labeled with the date and year (for posterity’s sake). Some folks store them in envelopes or jars. Either works as long as you keep them in a cool, dry environment.

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