A pungently-flavoured salad leaf native to the Mediterranean, Eruca sativa, belonging to the brassicaceae, or cabbage family. Various common names for rocket are the French roquette, the Italian rucola and the Sicilian arugula.

Rocket, often identified as a weed, earns its name due to the plants tendency to bolt and go to seed very rapidly during hot weather, sending up slender stems that can double the plant's size in a matter of days.

It is an annual herb growing to a height of 50 cm (22 In). It bears delicate, 4 petalled white to pale violet flowers and attractive dark green leaves growing up to 10 cm in length.

It is quite easy to grow from seed and yields a crop in 6-8 weeks in early spring to summer, but it is possible to grow year round if you live in a mild climate. Provide the plant with plenty of sun and a decent, regular drink. Just watch for the bolting seed stems, which should be pinched back if you intend to use the leaves for salad.

The flavour of rocket is very strong, with peppery, mustard overtones that are deliciously hot in the immature plant (meaning small leaves), but can be overwhelmingly strong in the fully mature plant. It finds itself particularly well-suited to other bold flavours, such as goat's cheese, anchovies and garlic.

I still remember my first introduction to rocket about fifteen years ago, when I first became interested in cooking. Back then, the salad leaf was still enjoying mysterious obscurity and was very difficult to find. I had to order my first bunch from a greengrocer a few days ahead, which most likely helped it along the way to becoming an instant addiction. The experience was a world away from the bland, watery iceberg lettuce that I had endured up to that point in my life. These days, rocket is available in suburban supermarkets, so I don't have to go too far to get a fix.

A sublimely-flavoured variation is Diplotaxis tenifolia, variously known as wild rocket, sand rocket and perennial wallrocket. It has relatively compact, slender leaves and a very strong, yet pleasant flavour. If you ever come across any on offer, snap it up as the rare treat it is.

Rocket can be served as is, or mixed with other salad leaves and simply coated with a dressing that should really include balsamic vinegar to help the strong flavours keep in harmonious balance. It is also well suited to being briefly cooked in other dishes such as risotto, pizza or frittata. Here is a couple of recipes to help your own addiction along.

Rocket and Parmesan salad

This simple pairing is so perfect, it has become the default house salad in many Sydney restaurants during the last few years. Serve it alongside semolina gnocchi and some eggplant salad and I could almost forget to eat meat for a day or two.



Trim the rocket of any coarse stems and discard any yellowing or wilted leaves. Give it a good tub in a sink full of cold water, drain and spin or gently pat dry. Place in a large bowl and add half the cheese and all the remaining ingredients. Toss together gently and thoroughly and pile attractively onto a serving plate. Scatter with the remaining cheese and serve forth.

Spaghettini with rocket, lemon and chilli

Dinner does not get any simpler than this, and rarely has so much flavour. Add some good crusty bread and a glass of achingly dry white wine and you will be impressing guests within twenty minutes. This dish can be made with any long slender pasta, like spaghetti, angel hair or linguini. For a special treat, try making your own pasta.



Cook the pasta according to the directions on the packet and err on the side of underdone. Add plenty of sea salt to the pasta cooking water, but no oil, which is a myth whose perpetrators should be viciously spanked.

Trim and wash the rocket as per the method from the previous recipe. Coarsely chop the rocket and set aside. Gently heat the oil in a heavy based frying or saute pan. Add the chilli and garlic and cook very gently for a few minutes. Drain the cooked pasta and do NOT rinse. Increase the heat in the frying pan and add the rocket. Toss pasta into the pan along with the lemon juice and seasonings, stir to combine. Serve immediately, passing the cheese separately.

Serves 6

Rockets were invented by the chinese hundreds of years ago; and have many uses including weapons, and peaceful uses such as fireworks and going to the Moon. *

Modern liquid rockets were invented by Robert Hutchings Goddard when he used a De Laval nozzle on a combustion chamber. The Nozzle turns most of the pressure and temperature in the combustion chamber into a supersonic gas flow, raising the efficiency from single digit level into the high 80s, making it one of the highest efficiency heat engines known.

In fact that invention leads to the definition of a rocket. A rocket is a vehicle with one or more rocket engines. It sounds like a trivial definition, but it turns out that not all vehicles that travel through space necessarily have rocket engines (for example solar sails or electromagnetic tethers may be employed instead in some cases.)

See costs of launching to orbit.

* - actually rocket engines were invented a lot earlier Archytpus allegedly built a steam powered bird that ran along a line, but there's hardly any description of whatever that was, but Hero of Alexander built the aeolipile which is a steam rocket with two nozzles on a bearing. It's similar in concept to the rocket tipped helicopter rotors that exist; and it clearly is rocket powered since all the propellant comes from the water tank/boiler at the base.

While by no means the first steam locomotive, it can be argued that George Stephenson's famous Rocket was the first truly successful one.

Drawing on George Stephenson and his son, Robert's, experience building earlier locomotives such as the Locomotion and Lancashire Witch, Rocket embodied the best locomotive practice of the day, and was the deserved winner of the Rainhill Trials held by the new Liverpool and Manchester Railway to select the locomotives to be used on the new line.

Indeed, the general principles laid down by Rocket in 1829 were followed in the vast majority of steam locomotives ever built. Rocket's boiler was longitudinal, clad in insulating material (wood, in this case), with a firebox at the back; the hot gases from the fire passed through a number of fire tubes through the boiler water, instead of a single flue as on all earlier locomotives. Exhaust steam from the cylinders was expelled through an exhaust nozzle to provide a forced draught for the fire.

Like the majority of steam locomotives to follow, Rocket had two cylinders, though their placing, angled upwards and backwards, was not to be continued; indeed, Rocket itself was later modified with more horizontal cylinders. Most subsequent locomotives had cylinders oriented horizontally forward of the first driving wheels. Rocket's cylinders also acted directly on the driving wheels, unlike most previous designs that had a complicated system of levers to transfer the force.

Rocket's fuel and water was, again in a pattern much duplicated, carried in a tender hauled behind the locomotive.

Emerging triumphant at the Rainhill Trials, Rocket was purchased by the railway company. Within a couple of years, modifications were carried out to bring it up to the standards of later engines; the cylinders were made more horizontal, a smokebox was added, and the towering stack was shortened.

In this condition it is preserved, in the Science Museum in London.

Rock"et (?), n. [F. roquette (cf. Sp. ruqueta, It ruchetta), fr. L. eruca.] Bot. (a)

A cruciferous plant (Eruca sativa) sometimes eaten in Europe as a salad.




Rocket larkspur. See below.

Dyer's Rocket. Bot. See Dyer's broom, under Broom. -- Rocket larkspur Bot., an annual plant with showy flowers in long racemes (Delphinium Ajacis). -- Sea rocket Bot., either of two fleshy cruciferous plants (Cakile maritima and C. Americana) found on the seashore of Europe and America. -- Yellow rocket Bot., a common cruciferous weed with yellow flowers (Barbarea vulgaris).


© Webster 1913.

Rock"et (?), n. [It. rocchetta, fr. rocca a distaff, of German origin. Named from the resemblance in shape to a distaff. See Rock a distaff.]


An artificial firework consisting of a cylindrical case of paper or metal filled with a composition of combustible ingredients, as niter, charcoal, and sulphur, and fastened to a guiding stick. The rocket is projected through the air by the force arising from the expansion of the gases liberated by combustion of the composition. Rockets are used as projectiles for various purposes, for signals, and also for pyrotechnic display.


A blunt lance head used in the joust.

<-- any flying device propelled by the reactive force of hot gases expelled in the direction opposite its motion. The fuel used to generate the expelled gases in rockets may be solid or liquid; rockets propelled by liquid fuels typically have a combustible fuel (such as hydrogen or kerosene) which is combined inside the rocket engine with an oxidizer, such as liquid oxygen. Single liquid fuels (called monopropellants) are also known. Since rockets do not depend on a surrounding fluid medium to generate their thrust, as do airplanes with propellers or jet engines, they may be used for propulsion in the vacuum of space. -->

Congreve rocket, a powerful form of rocket for use in war, invented by Sir William Congreve. It may be used either in the field or for bombardment; in the former case, it is armed with shells or case shot; in the latter, with a combustible material inclosed in a metallic case, which is inextinguishable when kindled, and scatters its fire on every side.


© Webster 1913.

Rock"et, v. i. [imp. & p. p. Rocketed; p. pr. & vb. n. Rocketing.] Sporting

To rise straight up; said of birds; usually in the present participle or as an adjective.


An old cock pheasant came rocketing over me. H. R. Haggard.


© Webster 1913.

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