Friday, January 19, 2007

Gastropod: Rocket

I’ve written before about those times when you get to the end of the day and discover that you haven’t managed to consume anywhere near the recommended daily servings of vegetables (I never have any trouble with the fruit quota, indeed, self-restraint is always required). I hear that for a lot of people, who, like me, ‘have no reason to be alive’*, cooking at the end of the day is a nigh on unendurable chore, a time of day when all pretence of self-care and worth is dropped into a toaster and served with baked beans. Well, aside from noting that baked beans are pretty good for you, even I, food obsessed that I am, have lived through such times—although I tended to stir my self-worth into tinned soup, because even toast was too much effort.

What I hadn’t discovered then was the virtue of rocket (arugula), that peppery, green, salad leaf that has risen from its humble beginnings as a roadside weed, to become the darling of the fine dining set, held aloft by prime rib fillet, truffles and other founding members of the ingredients elite. Lately, the towers of rocket may have slipped from their privileged positions in esteemed restaurants, to be replaced by... well, I wouldn’t know ... but now we, home cooks, with only ourselves to please, can celebrate its simple genius.

Rocket Engineering **

The night before last, I made myself a tuna pasta, and topped the whole dish with a big handful of rocket, lightly tossed in some extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. The rocket wilted slightly with the heat of the pasta, but that only assisted in stirring it through the rest of the dish, which made eating it more manageable. Divine.

The beauty of rocket is that I can imagine topping a serving of baked beans on toast with it. It would be perfect on melted cheese on toast too, another preparation which suffers from too little in the way of vegetables. You don’t have to go to the effort of making a marinated mushroom, roast capsicum, and fetta pizza to make the most of rocket.

But if you have some less than perfect mushrooms and a beginning-to-shrivel red capsicum that shouldn’t be wasted, you might like to.

And that’s only a pita bread pizza base I’ve used there.

I think I can declare that Cooking for One, Tip #2 is: Embrace the virtuosity of pita bread. I’m thinking pizza bases; dipping bread or chips, if you toast it in the oven first; pan fried sandwiches; the more traditional use as a wrap for falafel and salads, meat if you’re anaemic, left-overs (hey, that chicken saffron dish would be aw-right in a pita bread) ...

* From lyric of ‘Far Away’ by Martha Wainwright: “I have no children. I have no husband. I have no reason to be alive. Oh give me one.” I must admit I can only read that ironically if I ignore the later part: “Whatever happened to us all? Annie had two young baby boys. And Jimmy went crazy crazy crazy late last fall.”

** You know that pun is the only reason I decided to post on Rocket. 'Arugula' seems lacking on that score, doesn't it?

1 comment:

dogpossum said...

without rocket we would get skirvy (? whatever).

we eat it every day, in big huge amounts. I cook it in pasta (ie wilt into some tomato/garlic/olive action), make salads with it, put it in toasted sandwiches... all that action.