I previously posted about Bresaola and one of the usual compliments of Bresaola is rocket. I also eat rocket when I’m eating Bresaola, but I have never called it that. Hearing the word thrown around in culinary circles made me curious, so I looked it up.
Rocket = arugula
It is used as a leaf vegetable, which looks like a longer leaved and open lettuce. It is rich in vitamin C and potassium. It has been grown in the Mediterranean area since Roman times, and was considered an aphrodisiac. Before the 1990s it was usually collected in the wild and was not cultivated on a large scale or researched scientifically. In addition to the leaves, the flowers (often used in salads as an edible garnish), young seed pods and mature seeds are all edible. It is now cultivated in various places, especially in Veneto, Italy, but is available throughout the world.
It has a rich, peppery taste, and is exceptionally strongly flavoured for a leafy green. It is generally used in salads but also cooked as a vegetable with pastas or meats. In Italy, it is often used in pizzas, added just before the baking period ends or immediately afterwards, so that it can wilt in the heat. It is sometimes used as an ingredient in pesto, either in addition to basil or as a (non-traditional) substitute.
On the island of Ischia in the Gulf of Naples, a digestive called rucolino is made from the plant, a drink often enjoyed in small quantities following a meal. The liquor is a local specialty enjoyed in the same way as a limoncello or grappa and has a sweet peppery taste that washes down easily.