Rocket, or arugula, if you live in north America, is one of my favourite leaves. I love how it can lift a buttery lambs lettuce salad with a punch of heat. I love its peppery freshness sprinkled over a pizza – one of my favourite ways to eat it.
Over winter, I ate rocket regularly as a simple side salad accompaniment to pasta suppers. A handful of leaves, a little salt and pepper, glug of olive oil, a sprinkle of the Barolo wine vinegar that I brought back with me from Eataly when I visited Rome last September, a few shavings of parmesan. This simple salad brought me so much pleasure through the winter months, that I ate it several times a week. The Barolo wine vinegar was essential to the vinaigrette because since running out, I’ve made it with regular balsamic and it just isn’t the same. The Barolo provided a rich, deep hit of full-bodied acid that just made everything sing.
So, during lockdown, I’m planning the next trip to Rome to buy some more. I’m making a shopping list and dishes to make with the ingredients. It’s something to look forward to, a plan to help get through these times we are living in. I have no idea when I will be able to make the trip, but I will be fully prepared when I do!
In the meantime, I have started to use rocket for pesto. It is a nice, peppery alternative to basil and adding lovely, toasted walnuts gives it an earthy groundedness. You could use a mix of basil and rocket to tone the punch down a little.
50g rocket/arugula leaves
30g walnuts, toasted lightly in a dry pan
1 clove garlic
100ml olive oil
A squeeze of lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
Use the pasta of your choice – dried or fresh. Here is a basic pasta recipe if you would like to make fresh. It is for one portion. To scale up, use 2 eggs and 200g for two portions. Once you have rolled out the dough, simply fold it and fold it again and then cut it into 3/4 cm strips.
For the pesto, place all of the ingredients in a food processor and whizz until it becomes the texture you like. Taste and adjust the quantities depending on your palate. I like to ramp up the lemon juice.