What have you heard when someone says “I ate some Rocket today”? You may hear them say they had it in their salad or as an appetizer. They might even tell you that it tasted like celery but, what exactly is this green plant called rocket and how did it become popular for salads and other dishes? Well, here we will discuss the origin of this name, its health benefits, and many different ways to use it.
The word “rocket” comes from Middle English where it meant “to make a loud noise”. By 16th century, the meaning became more specific to vegetables with the addition of the prefix “cole”, which means cabbage or cauliflower. It first appeared in Great Britain under the 1707 Act on Cabbage and Turnips. In 1828, the first commercial cultivation of rocket was started by William Withering at Coventry in England. He grew his crop indoors because he believed it would be easier than growing outside. The name rocket came from the French words “roquette” meaning little sprout. This refers to the fact that rockets grow very fast.
Rocket has been used as food since ancient times. There are records of people using it around 2000 B.C.E. in Egypt, Greece, and Rome. During the Renaissance period, rocket crops were grown throughout Italy, France, Spain, Germany, England, and Holland. However, it wasn’t until the 18th century that it began to appear regularly in many European countries’ cuisine. The large-scale production of rocket didn’t begin until the 19th century. From 1860 to 1870, there were over 1 million acres dedicated to growing this crop in England alone. Since then, farmers have planted millions of acres of it worldwide every year.
In terms of nutrition, rocket contains vitamin A, B1 (Thiamin), B2 (Riboflavin), B3 (Niacin), B5 (Pantothenic acid), B9 (Folic Acid), B12 (Vitamin B12), calcium, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, zinc and copper. These nutrients are essential for healthy growth and development of humans, especially children.
Is Rocket a Vegetable?
Yes, Rocket is considered a leafy green vegetable. Although it looks similar to lettuce or spinach, it is not related to these two plants. When comparing the leaves of both plants side by side, the differences between them become apparent. Let’s compare the size and shape of the leaf of each one. Lettuce grows uprightly while Rocket grows horizontally. Also, the color of the lettuce is dark green whereas Rocket is light green in color. Finally, when you cut a lettuce leaf, the edges curl up because of the moisture within. On the other hand, the edges of the rocket do not curl up.
Health Benefits of Rocket
There are several health benefits associated with consuming rocket. For example, it helps lower cholesterol levels. It also prevents cancer cells from dividing and multiplying into tumors. Furthermore, it protects against cardiovascular diseases. Another benefit of this vegetable is that it aids in digestion by increasing stomach acid. Therefore, it improves the digestive system’s ability to break down proteins and carbohydrates. Lastly, it promotes weight loss due to the high fiber content in the leaves.
Many people consume rocket daily without any ill effects. However, if you have diabetes or hypoglycemia, you should consult your doctor before eating this vegetable.
How Can I Use Rocket?
You probably know that most commonly rocket is eaten raw in salads. Its flavor is strong enough to mask the taste of milder ingredients such as tomatoes. It also adds texture and crunchiness to salads. In addition, the leaves can be added to sandwiches, pastas, and soups. You can also sprinkle it onto cooked meats to add flavor. As for preparation method, washing and drying the leaves thoroughly prior to cooking is recommended. Then you need to remove stems and any brown spots. Once ready, mix it with salt and pepper to your preference. Afterward, cook the mixture in hot oil for three minutes or until lightly browned. Next, drain excess oil and serve immediately.
If you enjoy the taste of rocket as much as I do, try making rocket pesto sauce! Just blend fresh rocket leaves with olive oil, garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, basil, salt, and black pepper. Enjoy a delicious meal prepared from scratch and save money too!