Wild rocket is one of summer's coolest greens. It adds a delicious, peppery contrast to everything from salads to pizza and risotto. And it's healthy for you too.
What makes wild rocket wild? Probably, because it grows like a weed, it was always something picked out in the fields rather than cultivated.
Like its relatively sedate garden cousin, Eruca versicaria, it belongs to the highly nutritious Brassica family, but in a different genus, Diplotaxis, with narrower, more deeply cut leaves and an even hotter, nuttier flavour.
There are two main reasons why wild rocket has become a favourite with chefs everywhere. One is its more robust texture, shape and flavour, all of which survive heat better, so you can fold the leaves into a frittata or a risotto for slow, gentle cooking, whirl them into pasta or stir-fries at the last second, or allow them to wilt delicately on the plate beneath a juicy steak or chop.
In cold dishes wild rocket works a different magic, pulling the simplest ingredients together into an epicurean delight.
It's not only the flavour but also the neat rickrack look of it: seasoning plus texture, colour and pattern. You need only two other ingredients - one mild or sweetish and one savoury - plus a simple dressing: good oil, balsamic vinegar or lemon juice.
Try buffalo mozzarella and sun-dried tomato, or smoked venison and melon, or broad beans and pecorino for a start; all good things, but it's the wild rocket that zips them together to such delicious effect.
Cook's note: wild rocket is available from Woolworths. Keep a lookout at your local store or buy online.