Rucola, Arugula or Rocket? | ITALY Magazine
How did one spicy green get so many names? I never know what to call it. In much of Italy it is â€œrucola,â€ in England â€œrocket,â€ and in the US â€œarugula.â€ When I am writing a recipe that is to be published in all three countries, which one do I choose?
Since Iâ€™m writing from Italy, perhaps I should call it rucola. Although, I have to admit Iâ€™ve always thought â€œrocketâ€ was a perfect description of its zesty, spicy flavor. So for today, rocket it is.
I have a bed of rocket in the garden at the moment, and have been trying to keep up with its speedy growth--cutting it back daily so it wonâ€™t go to seed. Fortunately, it is a wonderfully versatile green. It goes well with carpaccio, tagliata (slices of medium-rare steak), and parmesan cheese. It is a nice addition to salads, pasta, bruschetta, and even makes and interesting pesto.
In the summer, I find it is especially useful as a replacement for potatoes. If it is a hot summer evening and I feel like BBQ-ing a steak, but donâ€™t want anything as heavy and starchy as potatoes to accompany it, I serve the meat in thick slices on a bed of rocket, with a few shavings of parmesan, and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil. It makes a lighter meal, and the clean, peppery taste of the rocket contrasts perfectly the richness of the meat.
I am always looking for new ways to use it, and this weekâ€™s invention is pasta with rocket and cherry tomatoes. Itâ€™s incredibly simple and quickâ€”one of those dishes you can throw together in the time it takes the pasta to cook. Hence the name.
Rocket Pasta(Serves 4)1 lb/500gm mezze penne rigate or fusilli pasta3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil2 cloves garlic, minced2 scallions, finely choppedSea salt, black pepper and chili pepper flakes, to tasteA medium zucchini, grated1 lb/500gm Cherry tomatoes, quarteredA handful of fresh basil, tornA large bunch of fresh rocket, torn or choppedÂ½ cup or so of coarsely grated Parmigiano-reggiano
Put the olive oil, garlic, and scallions in a large serving bowl. Season with some salt, black pepper and chili. Add the zucchini, tomatoes, basil, rocket and parmesan. Toss well.Cook the pasta in a large pot of fiercely boiling salted water until al dente. Drain. Add the hot pasta to the bowl with the rocket mixture and toss. Taste for seasoning and serve.
Californian cook and cookbook author Rachel Lee has been living in Italy since 2001. She divides her time between Tuscany and Sicily.
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