Herb or salad: Rocket is a virtuous plant that should be present in every patio or garden. Let’s find out more about Rocket and learn the secrets for its cultivation and use in the kitchen.
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Rocket, botanically known as Eruca sativa, is one of the most easily recognised and healthiest salad plants and it is worth learning how to cultivate it and how to make the best use of it in the kitchen.
RB Plant from Albenga grows Rocket as a part of their high-quality, intensely flavoured, natural Sunny heRBs range that is exclusively “made in Albenga”.
The distinctive features: Everybody recognises Rocket for its characteristic, slightly spicy and mildly bitter taste, but maybe not everybody knows that Rocket is a truly virtuous plant.
Since ancient times Rocket has been known for its diuretic, bactericidal, anti-inflammatory, antiaging and antioxidant properties, to mention just a few.
Cultivated Eruca sativa is an annual plant that is also known in Italy as “ruchetta” or “ruca”.
This easily grown, highly productive plant is best cultivated in a vegetable garden or in a pot on the patio.
Let’s look at some cultivation and culinary advice.
Rocket: growing advice
This is a particularly adaptable plant that can be easily grown in the vegetable garden. Rocket does not tolerate either stagnant water or drying out, is resistant to cold spells but should be protected from frost damage.
As a simple, undemanding plant, Rocket will happily grow in pots. It requires a damp soil through frequent, regular but not excessive, watering.
Although the plant is quite resistant and does not have any significant enemies, it should be protected from Altica or flea beetles that perforate the rocket’s leaves and are a well know pests for all brassicas.
Rocket: when to harvest the leaves
The leaves can be harvested right after being transplanted but it is better to wait until the plant is strong enough to regrow without difficulty. Normally the leaves should be between 7 to 8 centimetres high before being cut.
Rocket leaves can be harvested all year round in central-southern areas and with a pause from December to March in the north. Leaves should be cut at the base, without tearing the buds at the collar so that the plant can continue to grow back.
Rocket: culinary use
The cut leaves will last for 3 to 4 days in the fridge, wrapped in a lightly dampened cloth.
They should be used fresh and raw: providing their special flavour to salads, sauces, sandwiches, pizzas, omelettes, soft cheeses, raw meats or fish and wild mushrooms.
Rocket’s uses go beyond a salad, it can be added to sauces or as a herb to combine with meats and cheeses, or added to toasted sandwiches and wraps.
Drying, freezing or cooking Rocket is not advised as these processes will alter the flavour and consistency.