Oh how I love the sunshine! Just the very thought of all that lovely Vitamin D seeping into my pores just makes me smile. It’s not only me that worships those blessed UV rays; our garden is bursting with life with all our vegetables shooting up like, well, weeds. Thank goodness they’re actually scrumptious tomato plants, delicious shallots and fantastic cucumbers to name a few of the delights we have raising their leaves to the sky to catch those golden rays.
But one of the best things thats been growing is our Rocket (or Arugula for my American readers). The moment those seeds touched the soil it seemed as if they just jumped out of the earth and shouted “Ta Da! Here I am now EAT ME!” Well, perhaps I made up the “Eat me” bit but they look so sweet and tasty that I just can’t resist in munching those little blighters. So I did.
There they were one minute, sitting happily in their recycled barbeque pot all innocent and the next minute they’re picked, washed and making the final steps to culinary nirvana.
Rocket is one of the most powerful and exciting leaves. Combined with Lamb’s Lettuce or Watercress and mixed with a little pear, walnuts toasted with Ras el Hanout (Morrocan spice mix), gives you a wonderful Middle Eastern take on a quintessentially traditional salad. But perhaps one of my favourite ways to enjoy Rocket, (with the exception of eating it raw straight from the ground), is to make a Salsa Verde with it.
There are many variations of Salsa Verde and I don’t know any two people who make it the same way, perhaps because this ‘Green Sauce’ is open to such wide interpretation. I have tasted many over the years; some which are absolutely delightful and some with some highly questionable ingredients which I feel have no earthly business being in such a delicious sauce. Nevertheless, I have developed my own version over the years which I feel has all the essential elements of a good Salsa Verde: piquancy, depth, zing, massive flavour and of course a gorgeous green colour. It is supposed to be bold and powerful, giving your dishes a swift kick up the backside and yelling at it to wake up. The pepperyness of the Rocket certainly helps in that area.
It’s also incredibly versatile. I serve it as a starter just on its own with some freshly baked bread or toss it through some freshly steamed green beans or new potatoes just before serving. In fact, you can have it with just about anything. Just make sure you don’t cook it out or it loses its flavour and potency. That’s why if you’re coating vegetables with it, make sure you toss them once they’re out of the steamer or saucepan. The warmth of the vegetables is enough to draw out the best in the salsa verde but not cook it, reducing it from a powerhouse of flavour to a pitiful weakling.
I’ve decimated my Rocket crop, I hope the new batch I’ve planted grows as quickly as I’ve almost used up all the Salsa Verde and I’m about to get withdrawal. Come on damn you….GROW!!!!
Take care and until next time:
“Don’t be scared, it’s just food!”
Rocket Salsa Verde
2 handfuls Rocket leaves (chopped)
1 handful Fresh basil leaves (chopped)
1 handful Flat leaf Parsley (chopped)
½ handful Chives (chopped – approx. 16 chives)
8 med. Cloves Garlic (chopped)
1 heaped dsp Capers (chopped)
3 Spring onions (sliced & use all the green tops too)
250ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil
175ml White Wine Vinegar
½ tbsp Agave or Maple Syrup
½ juice Lemon
To taste Salt & Pepper
Preparation: 10 minutes Makes: approx. 500ml.
Place all ingredients into a mixing bowl. Stir gently till combined. Adjust seasoning & lemon juice if necessary.
This keeps in the fridge in an airtight container for a week.