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Articles - A Healthy Diet:

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From weed to stardom

Rocket or rucola, or arugula in the USA, has conquered the kitchen. The pungent, slightly peppery leaves give mixed salads a certain piquancy. But have you tried rocket with strawberries or asparagus? Fresh rocket leaves scattered over a pizza or risotto add freshness and a pleasant bite. Soups and sauces, omelettes, fish and meat dishes also benefit. Carpaccio of beef with rocket and parmesan shaving is a classic dish. Or try pasta with a fine rucola-gorgonzola sauce or with a rucola pesto made by pounding or pureeing rucola with pine nuts, parmesan, garlic and olive oil.

Origin and botany

Rocket originated around the Mediterranean and is a member of the brassica family (Brassicaceae). It’s been widely grown in central and northern Europe for years now – ever since it became popular. There are two main sorts, salad rocket (Eruca sativa) and wild rucola (Diplotaxis tenuifolia). Salad rocket is an annual, wild rocket is a perennial and has a harsher taste. The one you’ll find in the shops is generally salad rocket. Always wash rocket before using it and spin it gently in a salad spinner.

Health benefits – but also nitrates

Rocket supplies a lot of healthy mustard oils – they’re also responsible for the peppery taste. Other good substances include carotene, vitamin C, folic acid, iron, calcium and potassium. Because rocket also stores nitrates, the stalks should be removed. Plants grown outdoors and/or organically are generally less problematic.

Buying and storing rucola

Buy small, young leaves and make sure they’re fresh and dark green. Big leaves could be tough and bitter. If you wrap it in damp kitchen paper, fresh rocket will keep for two or three days in the vegetable drawer of your fridge.

 

Source: Heike Kreutz, www.aid.de