Peppery rocket has long been a favourite salad herb in the ALB kitchen but it was not always so popular amongst the general British population. Rocket was popular in Elizabethan days but it fell out of favour in the centuries that followed. Somewhere along the lines rocket (also called rucola or arugula) made a grand return, and for good reason. Rocket is used around the world for its culinary versatility, particularly when eaten raw. It's also easy to grow in a pot or raised bed.
How to Grow Rocket
Sow rocket seeds outdoors anytime from March to September (after that sow under cover). Scatter the seeds lightly over well-prepared soil. The first seeds should be ready to harvest within a month. You can either cut the entire plants or harvest the leaves one at a time as you need them. Be aware, rocket does easily go to seed at which point the leaves can become unpleasantly peppery. At this point, either pull the plants up and start again, or (much easier) leave the rocket to self seed.
Did you know?
- In classical literature, rocket is often mentioned as an aphrodisiac, most famously in a poem thought to be by Virgil which contains the line: "et veneris revocans eruca morantuem" ("the rocket excites the sexual desire of drowsy people").
- Along with rocket's associations with sexual proclivity came certain customs across various cultures. The ancient Egyptians would give rocket to bridegrooms on their wedding night. The Romans mixed rocket with other aphrodisiacal herbs to create special elixirs for increasing sexual potency. Monasteries, however, were forbidden to grow rocket during the Middle Ages!
- On the nutrition side, rocket is a great source of iron, potassium, magnesium, calcium, beta-carotene, sodium, dietary fibre, and vitamins A, B, C and E.
- It's not all bad when rocket goes to seed! Rocket flowers are edible and can be used to embellish all kinds of dishes, from pasta and salad to soups and frittatas.
Favourite Rocket Recipes
Rocket is often used as a salad leaf or as a topping on pizzas, but you can do so much more with it. We love to stuff it in a sarnie, like our Prawn & Avocado Sandwich. Here's some more inspiration for rocket from around the web: