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.
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.
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.