In the last years, there was a constant trend to use more herbs in cooking,
and every year new herbs become known and available. At present, rocket as well
as basil, coriander
and bear’s garlic (the latter only in Central
Europe) have become symbols of good cooking that can hardly be ignored by
any chef. It is a good principle to distrust the fluctuations of fashion,
and the zeitgeist is no honest guide to good taste,
but one cannot seriously doubt the culinary value of the said plants,
even if they are often employed inadequately in stylish recipes.
The same comments also hold for pumpkin seed oil.
|Rocket plant with flowers.
The most typical use of rocket is as a flavouring for salads; it lends an interesting, spicy note to all kinds of lettuce, but I like it less for tomato salads. Chopped rocket leaves are a good garnish for many Mediterranean foods, but care must be taken that the rocket flavour does not dominate. Rocket leaves prepared with olive oil, aceto balsamico and freshly grated Parmigiano cheese makes an excellent appetizer for any Mediterranean, especially Italian, feast. In Turkey, rocket leaves are popular as a garnish for meats grilled on a skewer (kebap) or on a rotating spit (döner).
In its pungency, rocket reminds of the various cresses; but it has, in addition, a powerful flavour of its own which some people dislike, at least on first try. One can grow accustomed to this flavour by increasing the dosage from time to time. For those that abhor rocket, cress can be used as a milder alternative; but the opposite is also true, and those who like rocket will want to use it occasionally instead of cress, although this would be no good idea for fines herbes (see chives).
If heated (boiled or steamed), rocket quickly loses all pungency, but
acquires a characteristic, rather subtle flavour that fits well to some
kinds of tasty food, e. g., Italian pasta or
risotto dishes. In such applications, however, one needs
a lot of rocket to impart a noticeable flavour, and one should keep the
heating period as short as possible.