Too Much Roka

We’ve had such a huge supply of ρόκα (roka: rocket/arugala) from the garden in the last month or so. And, no doubt, more to come. Greek roka is larger than the tender baby leaves we used to get in the supermarket back in the UK and is certainly more pungent and peppery. And, we’ve been eating endless salads of this green stuff. Not that I’m complaining, but sometimes, when contemplating yet another rocket salad, I think enough is enough. Plenty to experiment with.

rocket_garden2017It even grows in the cracks!

I’ve made a rocket ‘pesto’ using almonds instead of pine nuts which was excellent on pasta. Then, I thought I would try another green sauce – gremolata. Naturally, I googled it and discovered the inventive Donna Hay had also come up with this solution. This was simply a combination of pounded rocket (in the mortar) with finely chopped lemon rind and mashed garlic held together with a little olive oil. It was very nice drizzled on a steamed fillet of perch.

What next? There are a plethora of green sauces out there. Perhaps a rocket version of chimichurri, chermoula or a simple salsa verde, or maybe a zhug (a Yemenite Hot Sauce I was recently reading about on the blog Serious Eats). After reading numerous recipes for green sauces, they all started to blend altogether. This is not surprising given they all have something in common – all based on finely pounded (or chopped) fresh green herbs.

bouquet_rocketYet another bouquet of rocket waiting to be used.

More internet searching led me to consider the idea of cooking with rocket. This delicious primavera risotto was the result of my first experiment.


Primavera Rocket Risotto
This risotto is loaded with green vegetables. The rocket’s natural peppery flavour adds an extra kick!

  • 2-3 cups finely chopped rocket (it wilts down, so more can be added if you want the flavour to predominate)
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 250g asparagus
  • 100g peas
  • 325g Arborio (risotto) rice
  • 100ml dry white wine
  • 800ml vegetable stock
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 80g grated Parmesan
  • Salt & pepper

In a sauce pan, heat your stock and keep this at simmer temperature.

Next, clean and finely chop your rocket. In a wide pan, heat the olive oil on medium heat and sauté the rocket so that it wilts. Meanwhile, assemble your other green vegetables. Cut the cleaned asparagus stalks – the tips into 5cm lengths and the tender ends the size of your peas. Keep the asparagus tips separate.

When the rocket is wilted, add the vegetables (except the asparagus tips) and the rice. Stir until the rice is coated with the oil. Add the wine and let it be absorbed almost completely before adding ladles of the hot stock, a little at a time, stirring carefully while the stock becomes absorbed. About half way through using the stock, add the asparagus tips.

After about 30 minutes, when the stock has all been added, test the rice for doneness. If not, add a little hot water. When done, test for seasoning, then stir in your grated Parmesan and butter. Serve once butter and cheese have blended.



  1. Won’t the tortoise help and eat some roka? It’s a nice dilemma you have, I much prefer the wild grown peppery flavour. Pesto freezes really well if that help at all, in fact I suspect you could just blanch the leaves, squeeze them almost dry and freeze it. You could use much as you would spinach

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    • Those tortoises get to everything that isn’t fenced in! They are picky, however, and won’t touch the tough leaves of my artichokes. I may try that blanch-freeze method or maybe freeze in oil like I do other herbs. You and Lisa (“cheergerm”) both came up with the solution of treating it like spinach. Definitely a good idea!


  2. That’s a lovely use of the rocket. Love the flavour but a surplus of anything can get a bit much. A chimmichurri sauce would be great too. And maybe in a mix of greens in spanakopita?


  3. I absolutely adore arugula, lucky you to have the larger leaves growing so prolifically in your garden. I have the “wild” type but it is the one with smaller pointier leaves…it is very drought tolerant and sharp. But you have to collect a LOT to make a salad.


    • The rocket here is very pungent, probably because of the climate. It grows like weeds – in fact, many of our weeds are rocket. There is so much of it that getting enough for salads is quite easy. Try cooking with it. I’ve been given a few pointers in this post – that is, use it as you would spinach. It provides a nice peppery alternative.

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