Crafty Cooking: Week 4

Food and Drink

Rocket, which also goes by the more musical names of rucola and arugula, is in many ways an ideal crop. It grows easily and is good for biofumigation, because it contains compounds that kill the nasty things that blight a farmer’s precious plants. Dense in nutrition and robust in flavour, it lends a bit of classiness as well. What’s not to like?
The problem is that too much of this spicy and sophisticated goodness can be a bit overwhelming; there is a reason that the parasitic nematode quails before its fumes. Accordingly, serving suggestions usually work out to a few leaves either sprinkled dramatically over pizza and pasta or mixed in with less pungent salad greens. That fresh rocket lasts only a few days only compounds the dilemma.
A more aggressive consumption tactic is needed, one that works on two principles: 1) Compression, so that the rocket-eater spends more time munching rocket and less forking air; and 2) Amelioration, so that the flavour of the rocket is kept in check by other assertive ingredients.

Sounds like a call for pesto to me.

Rocket and Edamame Pesto
The basic recipe for pesto can be adapted to lots of pungent leaf-and-toasted nut combinations. Try radish leaves, cilantro, parsley, or the standard basil; toasted walnuts, pine nuts, cashews, almonds, etc.  Tweak the amounts below to get the consistency and profile you like.

300 g arugula
100 g extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced (optional: sauté first for a milder flavour)
100 g roasted edamame beans (available from M & S)
50 g grated hard cheese
juice from half a lemon
salt and pepper, to taste

If you are using a blender or food processor, all you really need to do is get everything ground and mixed. With a mortar and pestle, it is easiest to do the nuts first, then chop the leaves before mashing them with the garlic; add oil as necessary and combine everything at the end. It is also possible to make pesto with a very sharp knife and a bit of patience, though some added ingenuity will be required for the nut-crushing part.

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