Diplotaxis erucoides

False Rocket – Fausse Roquette

diplotaxis erucoides flower

diplotaxis erucoides

The name Diplotaxis comes from Greek, diplos meaning double, taxis meaning row, referring to the seeds arranged in two rows in each fruit capsule.  It is such a common plant here in the south of France.  It is found growing in the vineyards, along the roadside and in the fields.
It flowers twice a year, in May and in November, you canʼt miss the scent, when you pass a field in full bloom. It smells of honey and cabbage. It is a very useful nectar plant, it flowers from autumn to spring, even during the winter, a time of the year when the bees have a hard time to find plants in flower.
It grows up to 50 cm tall. The leaves are divided, serrated and terminating in a large lobe.  The flowers are white, sometimes with a touch of pink. Upon ripening, the seed pods (3-4cm long) burst open and spread the seeds all over the area.
False rocket is rich in sulphur. Sulphur has been used in medicine for at least 4000 years.  This was long before it was known that every cell in the human body contains sulphur, as do all plant and animal cells.  In man, the mineral is concentrated in hair, nails and skin.  There is no recommended intake of sulphur because it is so widespread in food that deficiency is unlikely.
In the past, in many countries, especially in the U.K.,  children were given treacle (made from cane or sugar beet) and sulfur (referred to as brimstone) as it was thought to have health benefits “to cleanse the blood”.
In Western, Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine it is used for skin problems. Chinese medicine uses it internally for lower back pain, kidney “chills”, constipation, and impotence.  In Homeopathic medicine sulphur is used for skin problems, diarrhea, body odour, over-sweating, lack of stamina, and over-sensitivity to the cold.
The best time to harvest the leaves is in autumn and spring, but even in winter they are still nice enough to eat.  They have a lovely flavour, sharp, like mustard with a slight hint of garlic.
The young leaves and the flowers can be used in salads.  The young shoots dipped in flour make tasty fritters.  They can be added to soup, pancakes and omelettes.  The flowers are used to decorate dishes, or added to mayonnaise, and fish dishes.
The recipe below is very suitable for ‘False Rocket’ in winter as the green leaves are not as tender as they are in autumn and benefit from being sauteed;  in addition they are still plentiful at this time of the year.

Baked Greek Omelette

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Ingredients:  3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 250 grams Mixed Greens, 60 grams of False Rocket (Diplotaxis erucoides), a handful of Nettle tops (Urtica), a handful of Sorrel (Rumex acetosa), a handful of Radish tops, a handful of baby Spinach, washed, dried and shredded, 2 handfuls of small Italian Blet, including some chopped stalks for texture, a few Dandelion leaves (Taraxacum officiniale), 8 lightly beaten large eggs, 3 tablespoons of chopped Mint (Mentha), 3 tablespoons of Parsley (Petroselinum crispum), 3 tablespoons of Dill (Anethem graveolens), 175 grams of crumbled Greek feta cheese, 25 grams of grated Pecorino, salt, freshly-ground black pepper and grated nutmeg.
Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C/Gas Mark 3.  Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a deep frying pan over a medium heat.  Add the leeks and cook gently for 10 minutes until soft.  Add the remaining oil and the mixed leaves to the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes until they have wilted down and are just tender.  Tip the greens into a bowl and add the eggs, mint, dill, crumbled Feta, grated Pecorino, 1/2 teaspoon salt, black pepper and nutmeg.  Oil a shallow, round, 20 cm non-stick cake tin, pour in the mixture and bake for about 45 minutes or until just set.


False Rocket Fritters

Ingredients:  30 young False Rocket shoots, 2 cups of flour, 2 eggs, 2 cups of milk, 1 pinch of salt, 1/2 tsp of cumin seeds, 1 cup of light sesame oil.
Wash the False Rocket shoots and dry them thoroughly in a towel.  Make a batter with the flour, eggs, milk, salt and cumin.  Mix it well and leave to stand for 1 hour.  Heat up the sesame oil.  Dip the shoots in the batter and let them fry for 20 to 30 seconds.  Drain them on sheets of kitchen roll.  Salt according to taste.
Bibliography:  Web – WikipediaDiplotaxis erucoides; Sauvages et Comestible – Marie-Claude Paume, Mediterranean Escapes – Rick Stein.
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About seasonalforaging

We are a group of friends who enjoy walking in the countryside in Provence searching for plants and herbs to identify and use.
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