Rucola is an annual plant growing to 20–100 cm tall. The leaves are deeply pinnately lobed with four to ten small lateral lobes and a large terminal lobe.
It is used as a leaf vegetable, which looks like a longer leaved and open lettuce. It is rich in vitamin C and iron. It is frequently cultivated, although domestication cannot be considered complete. 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.
It has a rich, peppery taste, and is exceptionally strongly flavored for a leafy green. It is generally used in salads but also cooked as a vegetable with pastas or meats.
Also called arugula, rocket, roquette, rugula and rucola,it is a bitterish, aromatic salad green with a peppery mustard flavor.In much of Italy it is “rucola,” in England “rocket,” and in the US “arugula.”
Though it has long been extremely popular with Italians, American palates often find its flavor too assertive. It (which resembles radish leaves) can be found in specialty produce markets and in some supermarkets. It’s sold in small bunches with roots attached. The leaves should be bright green and fresh looking. It is very perishable and should be tightly wrapped in a plastic bag and refrigerated for no more than 2 days. Its leaves hold a tremendous amount of grit and must be thoroughly washed just before using. Arugula makes a lively addition to soups and sautéed vegetable dishes.. It makes a delicious addition to salads but can also be used to make soups and rocket pesto. A bed of rocket is a good base for serving grilled poultry or fish.

Some Recipes with Rucola

Pesto di rucola

To accompany the pasta with family

Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 200g/7oz fresh rocket leaves.
  • 1 clove garlic.
  • 10 tbsp Italian extra virgin olive oil.
  • 1 tbsp salted capers.
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar.
  • 100g/4oz freshly shaved Parmesan salt.
  • freshly ground black pepper.

Directions

  1. Using a sharp knife, finely chop the rocket leaves, garlic and capers and place in a large bowl. Add the olive oil, the vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Allow to rest while cooking the ravioli.
  2. Cook the ravioli according to packet instructions. Put two tablespoons of the rocket sauce on a plate.
  3. Gently place the drained pasta on top of the sauce, then add another two tablespoons of sauce.
  4. Decorate with the shaved Parmesan and serve immediately.

Crisp onion and rocket salad

Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 55g/2oz rocket.
  • 1 tbsp olive oil.
  • ½ lemon, juice only.
  • ½ red onion, finely sliced.
  • 1 tsp brown sugar.

Directions

  1. Place the rocket leaves into a bowl with half a tablespoon of olive oil and the lemon juice and mix well.
  2. Heat the remaining olive oil in a small frying pan and fry the onion with the sugar until crisp and caramelised.

Rocket Pasta

Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 1 lb/500gm mezze penne rigate or fusilli pasta.
  • 3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil.
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced.
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped.
  • Sea salt, black pepper and chili pepper flakes, to taste.
  • A zucchini, grated.
  • 1 lb/500gm Cherry tomatoes, quartered.
  • A handful of fresh basil, torn.
  • A large bunch of fresh rocket, torn or chopped.
  • ½ cup or so of coarsely grated Parmigiano-reggiano.

Directions

  1. Put the olive oil, garlic, and scallions in a large serving bowl. Season with some salt, black pepper and chili. Add the zucchini, tomatoes, basil, rocket and parmesan. Toss well.
  2. Cook the pasta in a large pot of fiercely boiling salted water until al dente. Drain. Add the hot pasta to the bowl with the rocket mixture and toss. Taste for seasoning and serve.

Sources: BBC, Wikipedia

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