Get the scoop on rocket vs arugula. Are they the same? Not as popular as kale, but still a tasty, healthy option for eating your greens. In our ultimate guide, you will learn everything you need to know!
Is Rocket the Same as Arugula?
Let's cut to the chase, YES, they are one and the same thing!
In North America, it's known as arugula - a variation of the Italian word rucola - but it's called aruculu in Calabria.
In English Commonwealth countries like Australia, New Zealand and Canada, it's known as rocket. Either from a northern Italian dialect word, ruchetta, or from the French roquette.
It is a member of the mustard (Brassicaceae) family, and as such, it has a peppery bite. It is high in sulphur which gives it its characteristic pungent flavour.
You can often tell how peppery or mustard your rocket will be by the leaves. The sharper the edges, the bitier it will be.
More mature rocket will taste hotter, more peppery, and can stand up to hot accompaniments.
When Is It In Season?
While you will find arugula throughout the year, it is at its best during spring and autumn/fall.
What Goes Well with Rocket?
Rocket has a peppery, slightly spicy flavour that pairs nicely with a variety of ingredients.
Its earthy, slightly bitter flavour can enhance the flavours of both sweet and savoury dishes.
It suits Mediterranean, Italian and French Cuisines in particular.
Ideal Flavour Pairings
- rocket + balsamic vinegar + lemon + olive oil + Parmesan cheese
- rocket + blue cheese + endive + grapes
- rocket + cucumber + feta cheese + mint
- rocket + endive + radicchio
- rocket + fennel + pears
- rocket + pears + prosciutto
- rocket + watermelon
Pairings with Protein - Dairy - Grains
PROTEIN: chicken; eggs (esp. hard boiled); clams; fish; mussels; shellfish (e.g.prawns/shrimp); ham; prosciutto; pancetta, etc.
CHEESE: blue cheese; feta; goat; mozzarella; Parmesan
GRAINS: pasta; risotto
Pairings with Fruits - Veggies
VEGGIES: artichoke; capsicum/bell peppers, esp. red; corn; cucumbers; endive; fennel; lettuce; mushrooms; potatoes; radicchio; radishes; salad greens; shallots; tomatoes;
FRUIT: apricots, grapes; pears; peaches, watermelon
Flavourings to Use with Rocket
HERBS: basil, dill, mint, lovage, watercress
NUTS: pine nuts, almonds
VINEGAR: balsamic, champagne, red wine, sherry, white wine
OTHER: garlic; lemon; pesto
There are a few varieties of rocket; the type sold loose is called wild rocket or baby rocket. They sell the broader leaf, more mature rocket in bunches. Mizuna is a Japanese rocket.
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- It is a variety common in the Mediterranean.
- It grows up to 90 cm tall with round leaves and produces a white flower.
- It has a milder peppery flavour than wild/baby rocket and is available in bunches.
- It has jagged leaves and produces yellow flowers.
- It has a much more peppery taste than plain rocket and is usually available in bags or loose leaves.
- They sell the smaller greens as baby rocket which have a milder flavour.
- It is a cool-season Japanese mustard green with feathery, delicate leaves and a peppery flavour similar to a rocket but not as spicy.
- The young leaves are often in pre-packed mesclun (mixed salad leaves).
- When young, the serrated leaves have a mild mustard, peppery flavour; as the plant matures, the flavours become more intense.
Selection and Storage
- Look for brightly coloured crisp leaves.
- Avoid yellow leaves as this shows age and that the greens may have an off flavour.
- Young, leafy greens have small, tender leaves and a milder flavour.
- Many mature plants have tougher leaves and stronger flavours.
- Keep your leaves in a bag in the crisper section of your fridge.
- It benefits from being stored like a herb or leaf lettuce, wrapped in some kitchen or paper towel, and then loosely bagged.
- Keep it on top of other fruit and vegetables so that it doesn't get crushed and damaged.
- It should last approximately 4-5 days if you avoid any moisture.
Put your rocket or mizuna leaves in a colander or strainer, or use the basket from your salad spinner. Rinse them under cold water to remove any dirt, and discard any bruised, wilted, or damaged leaves.
Or, you may choose to fill your sink or a large bowl with cool water and immerse the leaves. Gently agitate them and allow them to stand for a few minutes to let the dirt drop to the bottom.
Then carefully lift the leaves from the water so as not to disturb any dirt that has sunk to the bottom. To remove all the dirt, you may have to do this several times.
Shake off the excess water after washing the leaves and either pat dry or spin dry.
I strongly recommend spinning your salad leaves in a salad spinner. The drier leaves allow your dressing to adhere to the rocket leaves for a much tastier salad.
To prepare a bunch of rocket, cut off the ends, and give it a wash in cold running water. Discard any wilted or damaged leaves, shake and then either pat dry or spin dry and then chop roughly.
TRIM THE ROCKET STEMS
WASH UNDER COLD WATER
EITHER SPIN DRY OR PAT DRY
ROUGHLY CHOP THE ROCKET
Is Kale or Rocket Better For You?
This peppery leafy green has now taken a back seat to popular kale, but it is still just as good, even better for you.
Rocket has more calcium and zinc than kale; it is equal in iron and magnesium and has fewer carbohydrates and naturally occurring sugars.
The great thing about rocket is that it has a wonderful peppery, spicy taste without needing to be dressed, massaged or sautéed!
Some of the health benefits of leafy greens are that they are high in chlorophyll and amino acids and are rich in:
- Vitamin C - maintains and repairs body tissue, helps absorb Iron and helps form collagen;
- Vitamin E - acts as an antioxidant and helps protect against free radicals, boosts the immune;
- Vitamin B - building blocks of a healthy body, they have a direct impact on your energy levels, brain function, and cell metabolism; and
- Vitamin K - is good for bone health and blood clotting.
It also contains beta-carotene, as well as lutein and zeaxanthin (for eye health). But rocket also provides glucosinolates, which help to protect against cancer.