Tag Archives: Cime di Rape

MINESTRA MARITATA, peasant soup from Calabria

Minesta in Italian means soup. But it does not stop there – minestrone is a thick soup and minestrina is a more delicate or thin soup.  All minestre (plural) may or may not have pasta (or pastina) or rice or grains added to thicken them.

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Then there is zuppa and this Italian word shares the common root with soupe (French), suppe (German) and sopa (Spanish and Portuguese).  These days the differences between a minestra and a zuppa are probably interchangeable and there are always regional and cultural variations (as the Calabrese minestra below), but a zuppa relies on an accompaniment of a slice of bread; usually this is placed in the bowl and the zuppa is ladled on top. The bread soaks up the juice and therefore no pasta, or rice, or grains (barley, wheat) are needed.  Traditionally, a zuppa has a broth base, whereas the liquid in a minesta is more likely to be water and relies on the vegetables, pulses, fish, meat (or smoked meat) for flavour. In modern times, recipes for minestra may include the addition of water, stock or broth as the liquid base .

So why am I taking such an interest in the specific Calabrese minestra?

I was recently in Adelaide and ate at Minestra, a small home style eatery in Prospect and ordered minestra with my pork and veal and eggplant polpette – the minestra in this case was presented less soupy and more like a side for the polpette, but it could also be ordered unaccompanied as a one course dish – with a little more liquid and more a like soup.  It is not only the food that I like at this eatery where the daily menu is chalked on a black board, and when they run out of a dish, they erase it. The other exciting change to the menu is that it can feature produce the locals bring in … YES, like the sign below says: locals are invited to bring in their produce.

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Minestra’s owner and head chef is Sandy Cenin (as you can see by the surname there is a bit of northern Italian in him) and his grandmother is Calabrese.

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Inspired by Sandy’s minestra, once home in Melbourne, I was determined to conduct some research and to make it.

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Minestra in Calabria takes on a different significance and is a traditional, peasant dish suited to the people who were used to working very hard on the land.  And it does not use pasta in this dish … the Calabrese have a reputation for being different (I say this as a pun). This Calabrese minestra has a certain degree of austerity about it, it is not sophisticated or complicated and it is made from simple frugal ingredients – wild greens if possible, and if one was lucky, perhaps a little pork. It also contains beans – dried broad beans or borlotti or cannellini. Hence the description of this minestra being maritata (married in Calabrese dialect) – several green vegetables and the beans (and bits of pork) are ‘married’ or combined to produce a very thick, stew like soup.  Some variations include potatoes and as for the pork, it can be fresh meat ribs or rind. I have also seen a recipe that includes the rind of grating cheese (pecorino) for flavourings.

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In Calabria, as in Sicily, wild foraged greens are much appreciated and not just due to necessity (as they once were). In Australia we may not be familiar with the range of edible plants available or have access to as many, but we do have some very good, green, leafy vegetables that provide contrasting and strong flavours.

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A mixture of three or four of seasonal, green, leafy vegetables, is sufficient –  I am using  endives (or escarole) and chicory, that are both bitter, cime di rapa (a brassica) for the mustard taste and sow thistle that was sold to me as milk thistle and tastes mild and grassy.

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I bought this mixture of greens from my regular fruttivendolo at the Queen Victoria Market (see photo below). If I had foraged for dandelions (bitter taste) or wild broccoletii (wild brassica) I would have used these  instead of the more conventional chicory, escarole (bitter) or cime di rapa (mustard).

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There are many brassicas that could be suitable – kohlrabi (root and leaves), cabbage,  kale (not Italian, but who cares!), cavolo nero, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts (not a Calabrese vegetable)and cabbage.

Wild fennel, amaranth, nettles are also wild greens that could be accessible to you or you may be growing borage in your garden (photo below).

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I am going to be Italian when I write this recipe. There are no measurements for the ingredients but my photos can give you an indication and it is ‘cucina povera‘- peasant cooking – that is, use what you can get, make it to your taste, add as much liquid as you wish, but keep it thick.

Use a variety of green leafy seasonal vegetables – whatever you can get – go for combinations of taste – bitter, sweet, peppery, grassy, aniseed taste (as in fennel).

RECIPE for minestra

Soak, cook pulses (borlotti, cannellini, dried broad beans) … or buy tinned beans if that is what you do. In my photo you will see that i have used black-eyed beans – this is not an Italian bean, but it is what I had on hand at the time and I do not think that my breaking of tradition mattered. Drain the pulses you intend to use. Keep the liquid (broth) in case you want to add it as the liquid for the minestra.

Clean the greens, separate them from any tough stems but keep the softer ones.

Soften the greens – boil them in as much or as little salted water as you cook all your green leafy vegetables. Drain them but reserve some liquid for the minestra. I did not have to discard any because I did not use much water to cook my greens.

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Chop garlic ( I used quite a bit), sauté the drained greens, add  beans. My ratio was about 2/3 greens and 1/3 beans.

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Add chopped chilli at the same time as the garlic if you wish or serve chopped chilli or chilli paste separately (Calabresi a fond of pepper paste). 

Add as much liquid as you wish, dish it up, drizzle some extra virgin oil on it and eat it with some good bread.

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See recipe for the Sicilian Maccu – another of those peasant soups and this one has even more traditions than the Calabrese minestra.

 

‘NDUJA and CALAMARI as a pasta sauce

‘Nduja is a spicy, spreadable, pork salame originating from Calabria. ‘Nduja is appearing on many menus and recipes – it seems to be replacing chorizo as an ingredient. As tasty as chorizo is, there has been a glut of it in far too many dishes.

I have been buying ‘Nduja for a couple of years now – ask for it in places that sell Italian smallgoods. I always like friends to try new ingredients and I have mainly presented ‘Nduja at the beginning of the meal as an accompaniment to the first drink with some fresh bread (like Pâté ) or I have used ‘Nduja as an ingredient in sauces for pasta – I made an excellent ragù (a meat-based tomato sauce), I added it to sautéed cime di rape with Italian pork sausages and sautéed it with squid (use small to medium sized squid).

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I always enjoy eating squid and because squid cooks quickly I enjoy making pasta sauces with it. The photo of squid was taken in the Catania Fish Market a few years ago.

I have already written a post about NDUJA and a recipe for ‘Nduja and Squid as a pasta sauce  – SPAGHETTI with ‘NDUJA, SQUID, VONGOLE AND PAN GRATTATO. If you enjoy spicy food, it is worth doing.

See vegetable: CIME DI RAPE

Unfortunately I have made this pasta several times but I have not taken photos –  I am too busy dishing it up for guests.

Sicilian method of cooking pasta in the same water that the vegetables are cooked in

Food and recipes bring people together.

I have relatives who live in Sicily.  My cousins who are still living have sons and daughters who are in their 40’s and 60’s. These younger cousins (even if they are in their 40’s and 60’s)  use the internet and read the recipes that I publish on my blog. Some of them sometimes contact me through Facebook and  sometimes they suggest variations to particular recipes. I very much appreciate this.

Below are two comments made recently about cooking pasta in the same water that the leafy, winter, green vegetable (called Cime di Rape or Broccoli Rape) have been cooked in. on this occasion Valentina and Stefania contacted me.

Valentina lives in Augusta and is from my mother’s side of the family. Stefania, from my father’s side of the family lives in Ragusa. These young women have never met, but they now know each other through the recipes on my blog.

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Here are the variations they have suggested:

Valentina

Marisa ti do la mia ricetta. Si fanno bollire le cimette ben pulite e si scolano, nell’acqua di cottura si fa cuocere la pasta (di solito orecchiette), nel frattempo si fa rosolare in olio extra vergine d’oliva un paio d ‘acciughe dissalate e le cimette e si fanno saltare in padella x qualche minuto …poi si unisce la pasta et voile’ la pasta è fatta!

Boil the Cime di Rape in the same water that you will cook the pasta (usually orecchiette).

Add the cleaned vegetables to salted boiling water, cook and drain them. Return the vegetable water to the saucepan and use it to cook the pasta.

While the pasta is cooking and the vegetables are draining, heat some extra virgin olive oil in a frypan (large enough to hold the vegetables and the pasta).

Add a couple of finely chopped anchovies, then the green vegetables and sauté them for a few minutes. Add the drained pasta and the pasta is ready.

 

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Stefania

Oltre alle acciughe (una ogni due persone, se sono grandi) aggiungi spicchi di aglio , peperoncino rosso. Salta la pasta e se vuoi aggiungi pan grattato.

As well as the anchovies (one between two people if they are big ones), add cloves of garlic and red chillies to the hot oil. Add the green vegetables and the cooked pasta (and sauté them for a few minutes to mix the flavours).

Serve the pasta with fried breadcrumbs (that have been toasted in a frypan in a little extra virgin olive oil).

Both Valentina and Stefania cook the pasta in the same water that the vegetables have been cooked in. The same is done when cooking pasta with kohlrabi or cauliflower or broccoli and although I am familiar with this traditional Sicilian method, I prefer to sauté my vegetables raw rather than boiling them (to preserve vitamins and crunch).

Pasta con the sarde or Pasta con la mollica are the only two recipes where I always cook the wild fennel in the water that will be re-used to cook the pasta. It flavours the pasta and also tints it a shade of green.

Both of these pasta dishes are also presented with fried breadcrumbs.

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For recipes see:

Pasta con Le Sarde (Pasta with Sardines, From Palermo, Made with Fennel, Pine Nuts and Currants)

Pasta with Breadcrumbs, Anchovies and Fennel (Pasta Cca Muddica)

Kohlrabi with Pasta – A Wet Dish (Causunnedda Che Cavuli )

Edible Weeds: Orecchiette e Broccoletti Selvatici (and Cime di Rape)

Cime di Rape (a Winter Green)

One of My Favourite Vegetables – Cime di Rape

The bunch of green vegetables in the front are Cime di Rape.

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ONE OF MY FAVOURITE VEGETABLES – Cime di Rape

I call these greens (as my parents did) Cime di rape – literally translated as turnip tops. You may also see them named as Cime di rapa. This is not a mispelling: rapa is the singular and rape is the plural and I guess in my family we called them rape because we ate the tops from more than one turnip.

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You may also see or hear them  referred to as broccoli rabe, or friarielli or broccolleti or rapini – same vegetable, but called by different names in various parts of Italy. These mustard greens are mainly grown and appreciated in southern Italy.

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I very much like this bitter green; it is sold in bunches, and is very much in season now (autumn through to winter).

I have written about this mysterious, leafy vegetable before. I eat them often and sauté  them in garlic and chilli either as a pasta sauce or as a contorno – a side vegetable.

Usually I use orecchiette – the ear shaped pasta from the region of Italy known as Puglia. This time, having run out of orecchiette I used penne instead (a brave thing to admit!)

I always present the pasta with pecorino rather than parmesan cheese.the strong taste of the greens requires a strong cheese.

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See:

Cime di rape

Orecchiette e broccolleti selvatici

Rape (turnips)

Enter cime di rape in the search button on the blog and this vegetable will be mentioned in several other posts.

Substitute the cicoretta (chicory) with cime di rape.

 

 

TORTA DI VERDURA (A vegetable flan or pie)

So what else can you do with all these wonderful winter leafy greens?

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In Italian a torta is a cake, but it can also be a savoury type, for example as in this case a TORTA DI VERDURA (A vegetable flan or pie). Verdura means vegetable and in this case green, leafy vegetables.

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There are different types of pastry that can be used, but in this case I chose one made with extra virgin olive oil. It is easy to make and I have found that it also generally keeps better than the other pastry and makes a more solid casing for the verdure. Interestingly in the rural areas around Ragusa (Sicily) sugar is often added to pastry and on this occasion I have done so.

I like to use a variety of different green leafy vegetables for the filling. Selected from any combination of the following: chicory, escarole/endive, chopped tender green leaves of celery and fennel (in small quantities) spinach, broccoli, cime di rape and cavolo nero (in the North of Italy). Kale (not Italian) is also suitable and occasionally I have also used a little cabbage.

If I am including endives or chicory, I use the outside leaves and reserve the more tender, lighter coloured leaves in the centre for green salads. Bitter tasting chicory and endive are particularly appreciated – bitter vegetables are considered particularly beneficial for the liver.

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The TORTA DI VERDURA is best served at room temperature and usually I bake it on the same day if I am presenting the torta at home. I usually stagger the preparations by cooking the verdura the previous day – often I will have it as a contorno (a vegetable side dish) the night before and save some for the pie. I either make the pastry the night before or at least two hours before the baking (this pastry likes to rest).

Breadcrumbs are sprinkled on top of the pastry before the filling is added. This will help to absorb juices from the vegetables and will assist to prevent the pastry from becoming soggy. My breadcrumbs are made from 1-3 day old, with the crusts removed. I use bread like a sourdough or made with pasta dura flour (hard wheat) and which has had time to rise naturally.

In the north of Italy, eggs are usually included to bind the mixture rather than the breadcrumbs; I add 2 beaten eggs well as the bread expecially if I am going to leave the cooked torta for more than 2 hours before I eat it.

INGREDIENTS
Vegetables: you should have masses of raw leaves – the equivalent to 3 large bunches of green leafy vegetables (se above for variety) which should give a mixture of about 6-8 cups of cooked, well drained and chopped, mixed greens.
½ cup of extra-virgin olive oil,
onions, 2 large chopped
salt to taste
chillies 2 dried or fresh (left whole and optional)
garlic, 6 cloves, squashed,
¾ to 1 cup coarse breadcrumbs
2 eggs, lightly whipped with a fork
Variations
When you are ready to put the filling into the torta you could also add the following:
Anchovies and black olives, ½ cup of olives ¼ cup of anchovies, chopped,
Currants and toasted pine nuts (about ½ cup of each, to taste). When I use this option I do not use chillies and add a little nutmeg.
Cheese – Sharp cheese like pecorino or provolone (with chillies) or a mild cheese like ricotta or pecorino fresco (I do not add chillies).
PROCESSES
To clean the greens: remove any bruised or brown leaves and cut off the tough stem ends. Separate the bunches into leaves, wash and tear some of the bigger leaves into smaller pieces (so that they cook quicker and fit into the pan better).
Cook the leaves by either steaming them in the pan and only using a little water or by adding them to about 3 cups of salted boiling water (as is the traditional Italian method for cooking verdure.) Stir regularly and ensure that the vegetables do not stick to the bottom of the pan.
Cover and cook over medium heat until softened, about 10 minutes – they will get more cooking later. Once again, Italians would cook these for a longer period. Drain well (I leave them in a colander until ready to use).
Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a large saucepan, add the whole chillies and the garlic and stir till the garlic has flavoured the oil. Remove and discard the garlic and chillies.
Add the onion and stir until softened.
Squeeze any remaining moisture from the greens before adding them to the pan, then taste for salt, adjust and toss them into the pan in the flavoured oil.
Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5-10 minutes.
Let cool and set aside.

PASTRY CRUST: Pasta Frolla Fatta Con Olio (Short pastry made with oil)

I like to make my own pastry, but you may prefer to use a commercial variety. I also enjoy using my fingers, however food processors work well.

In this recipe I have used standard cup measurements and approximate weight, but let your intuition be your judgement and vary the amounts as needed. Different flours will absorb differing amounts of liquid I have estimated the approximate amount of water which could be used. Pastry making is also influenced by the weather, use cold water, and rinse your hands to cool them under the cold-water tap, keep the pastry in a cool place when you allow it to rest.

The pastry should be compact and may not need any extra liquid, but if you feel that you will not be able to roll it out, add more oil or a little water. Some recipes use a combination of whole eggs and egg yolks, others add a little white wine or lemon juice for the extra moisture.

I like to bake the bottom of the pastry blind before I put in the filling: line the pastry with foil; add pastry weights (or dried beans or chick peas) on top. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove foil and weights. (Optional – brush pastry with egg white to provide a better seal and bake for another 10 minutes).

The torta can also be covered entirely with pastry, rather than with strips as I have done on this occasion.

INGREDIENTS
plain flour, approx 3 cups
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon of sugar
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
¾ cup water cold
2-3 egg yolks
extra virgin olive oil, to brush the top of the pastry
PROCESSES
Combine in a large bowl or on a slab with the flour, sugar and salt.
Drizzle with the extra virgin olive oil and lightly rub quickly with your fingers until the mixture is crumbly.
Make a well in the centre, work in some of the water, adding more water as needed, until the mixture begins to hold together and form soft dough. Knead for 2-3 minutes until the pastry feels elastic
Shape into a ball, wrap it in plastic film and let it rest in a cool place for at least 60 minutes before rolling out.
To assemble the torta:
Preheat the oven to 190.C.
Butter a deep spring- form pan (mine is 22.5 cm round and 6.0 cm deep) with extra virgin olive oil.
Divide the pasty into 2 parts; roll out one slightly larger than the other to line the bottom and the sides of the dish. Make the edge about 1cm higher than the edge of the tin. (About 07.5 cm). Do not b concerned if you find this dough to have become a little more stiff and resistant to stretching.
Fit the dough into the prepared well buttered pan, pressing it against the sides and letting the excess dough hang over the edge (about 3cm).
Prick the pastry and place it in the fridge until the filling is ready.
Roll out the remaining dough and cut the pastry into strips.– these will form the lattice.
Prepare the filling:
Drain and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Add eggs and any of the variations (optional).
Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over pastry in the pan.
Cover the filling with strips of pastry: start with the longest strips and lay in a cross shape across the centre of the pie (90 degree angles). Alternate horizontal and vertical strips until you have covered the cake with a lattice (or weave them in an over-and-under pattern).
Press the ends of the strips firmly to the lip of the pie and then fold in on itself.
Bake and cook until the top is golden and the pastry has detached itself from the sides of the tin. This may take about 45- 60 minutes
Allow to rest in the tin for 8 minutes on a wire rack before releasing it (or if you are clever and have used a conventional baking tin, inverting it).

Be Italian!

As an Italian  I am able to better appreciate the different flavours of the torta  if I eat it warm rather than hot.

Can you imagine this torta made with wild greens? The photo below was taken  just outside the gates to the Valley Of The Temples in Agrigento. There he is with his plastic bag…..

Wild greens picker

 

QUEEN VICTORIA MARKET (Carmel and Gus’s stall in B Shed, Stall 61- 63)

I buy freshly picked vegetables and fruit that are in season – it is more likely to equate to optimum flavour and nutrition.DSC_5457

Many cooks are not familiar with particular vegetables or do not know how to cook them. For example: artichokes, chicory, fennel, cavolo nero, cime di rape, prickly pears, broad beans, cardoons, endives, kale (to name a few) would be classed as unusual vegetables to some shoppers.

Gus and Carmel's stall @ Vic Market

But I can buy all of these ingredients from Carmel and Gus’s stall at the Queen Victoria Market (B Shed, Stall 61- 63).

On my blog you will find many photos of produce from their stall and recipes on how to cook them. This season the cavolo broccoli have been interesting to try .

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I have again much enjoyed the artichokes and the cime di rape (see photo below). Most of the time, I stuff my artichokes with breadcrumbs, parsley, grated pecorino (if cooking Sicilian), garlic and I moisten the stuffing with extra virgin olive oil.

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I braise them in broth and white wine. Great stuff.

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EDIBLE WEEDS: Orecchiette e Broccoletti Selvatici (and cime di rape)

These plants are what I have always known as broccoletti selvatici. They are part of the group of edible plants called piante selvatiche (wild plants) or piante spontanee or erbe spontanee (spontaneous herbs) in Italian

For the photo, I collected two whole plants and the photos took place in my dining room (this is why they look so well groomed).

The weed, is classed as a brassica (family of vegetables which includes broccoli and cabbage) and if you can be patient enough to collect a sufficient quantity of wild broccoletti you will not be disappointed. As you see by the second photo, it is only the tender tips with young leaves that you pick – love and patience is required – take a bag, be prepared to walk and pick only the tender shoots from each plant.

They taste similar to cime di rape and tossed around in a pan with garlic, some chilli and olive oil, they make a vey tasty vegetable contorno (side dish) or a pasta sauce for orecchiette (pasta shaped like little ears and popular in Puglia). As a variation for that pasta sauce, a fresh, Italian pork sausage or some anchovies can be crumbled into the hot pan at the same time.

The pasta will need pecorino rather than parmigiano grated on top – not only because it is a southern Italian type dish, but also because a strong tasting sauce requires a strong cheese.

I discovered that what I have always known as cime di rape have local names in some regions of Italy. In Lazio they’re broccoletti. in Campania  they’re named friarielli, and in Toscana, rapini.  You may therefore not be surprised that what I call broccoletti selvatici are known by different  local names in the different regions of Italy. For example in Sicily which is a small island, some Sicilians may call them lazzane (a similar wild green in Sicily) and other Sicilians from a different part of Sicily may refer to them as cavoliceddi.

Like all vegetables, these wild broccoletti are seasonal and you will need to wait till the yellow flower appears before you pick them, but not too many yellow flowers, because this means that the plant is going to seed. If this is the case, and the plant will be spindly – its energy would have gone into seed production, and in fact, if you look at the photo, this is already beginning to happen.

Most of the world’s other cultures harvested (and some still harvest) from the wild: dandelions, wild chicories, nettles, amaranth, purslane and wild fennel may be the most recognised.

Other cultures living in Australia also collect wild greens, for example Greeks call them horta and I have written about vlita – a summer weed, in a previous post. Indigenous Australians had their favourites and some early pioneers ate wild greens, such as Warrigal greens and pigweed.

INGREDIENTS
orecchiette 500 g
wild greens or cime di rape, 500-700g
garlic cloves, to taste, chopped
chillies, to taste, chopped
anchovy fillets 3-4 chopped finely or 1-2 pork Italian sausages
extra virgin olive oil, ½- ¾ cup
white wine, a splash
pecorino for grating
PROCESSES
Wash the greens.
Heat some olive oil, add the garlic, chillies and the anchovies (or broken up sausage).
Add the vegetables sauté for a few minutes until they begin to wilt.
Add white wine, cover and cook till soft.(Some cooks pre-cook the greens and then sauté them – this is not necessary if you are only cooking the young shoots).
Cook the orecchiette and dress them with the greens.
Present them at the table with grated cheese, preferably pecorino -this is the stronger tasting grating cheese and more alined with southern Italian tastes.
SEE:

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THOSE OTHER BRASSICAS (Cabbages and Brussel Sprouts and how to cook them)

I love all brassicas (brassicaceae or mustard family), not just the Italian cime di rape,  the coloured (green, purple, pink) and cream cauliflowers, broccoli, cavolo nero, kale, kohlrabi,  cabbages Brussels sprouts and all of those Asian mustard greens .

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If we are talking about favourite Sicilian brassicas, there are the cime di rape, coloured cauliflowers, the green and purple coloured kohlrabi and broccoli.

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Italians seem to buy local produce and you are unlikely not find brussel sprouts, savoy cabbages, cavolo nero or red cabbage  in Sicily – these are grown in north of Italy. In the north of Italy you are less likely to find cime di rape or kohlrabi or the purple cauliflowers.

 

In Sicily the white cabbage (cavolo cappuccio), available in winter, is often used uncooked as a salad green and simply dressed with a mixture of extra virgin olive oil, wine vinegar, salt and pepper. The salad tastes quite sweet.

Brussels sprouts in Italy are called cavolini or cavoletti di Bruxelles (or Brussels).

The Brussels sprouts in my mother’s kitchen were always brasati (braised in a little broth – stock or stock cube with a little water). My mother’s brussel sprouts were always overcooked and unfortunately for me this seems to be the preferred way that  Italians prefer to eat vegetables.

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INGREDIENTS
Brussels sprouts, 1k
onions, 2 sliced finely
butter and extra virgin olive oil, ½-¾ cup
stock/broth, veal or chicken, ½- 1 cup
pepper and salt to taste

PROCESSES
Remove the external leaves to the cavolini, and cut a little cross at the base
(to help them cook evenly).
Precook them for about 5 mins by boiling them in salted, boiling water (I do not pre cook them) and drain well.
Saute` the onions in a mixture of oil and butter, add the cavolini and toss them around till coated.
Add the broth, salt and pepper, partly cover them with a lid and braise slowly.

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Red cabbage (cavolo cappuccio rosso) is not a Sicilian vegetable, but is appreciated in Trieste and goes very well with pork. The following recipe has Austrian origins, which is nor surprising when one looks at Trieste’s location.

INGREDIENTS

bacon or speck cut into very small cubes, ½ – 1 cup

red cabbage, ½ sliced very thinly
extra-virgin olive oil, to taste
red wine vinegar, ½ cup
cumin seeds,
salt and pepper to taste

PROCESSES
Lightly brown the bacon or speck in a little oil.
Boil the vinegar, add the cumin seeds and a little salt and pour the hot mixture over the cabbage.
Add the bacon, toss and let it marinade for at least 2 hours.
Add a drizzle of oil when ready to serve.

Cooked cabbage is not very common in Sicily, but it is in Trieste and I have always loved the way my mother cooks Savoy cabbage (cappuccio verza).

When we first arrived in Australia, there was plenty of cabbage and not much else in the way of green vegetables, so cabbage was frequently eaten. As silly as this may seem to you, I used to love this cabbage dish as a filling in a sandwich or panino (bread roll). Although it was my favourite filling I used to cringe on those occasions that my mother had packed this for my school lunch. It used to smell so strongly and on those particular days, I used to pretend I had forgotten my lunch and ate it on the way home. My school bag always needed to be aired overnight.

INGREDIENTS
Savoy cabbage, ½ sliced thinly
garlic, 3 cloves, chopped
white wine, ½ glass or water
bay leaves, 2, fresh
salt and freshly ground black pepper
extra virgin olive oil, ½-¾ cup

PROCESSES
Add the garlic and the cabbage to the hot oil.
Stir the cabbage in the oil until it begins to soften, add the wine, bay leaves and the salt and pepper.
Cover the pan and cook on very gentle heat for at least 20 minutes (my mother cooked it twice as long). Stir from time to time to ensure that it is not sticking and add more wine or water if necessary.

See Recipes:

CIME DI RAPE

CAVOLO NERO

CAVOLOFIORE  AFFOGATO (cauliflower)

KOHRABI with pasta

 

RAPE (Turnips)


This photo shows a fresh bunch of small turnips. Turnips (the bulb), even if small are not popular to eat in Italy, but the leaves are eaten.

You can see that the ones I buy are a sold with their leaves – green, fresh and tasty. They are excellent to eat either wilted in salted water and dressed with oil and lemon, or braised with garlic and chilli. Turnips are members of the brassica family and these greens are related and taste very similar to cime di rape (see ONE OF MY FAVOURITE VEGETABLES Cime di Rape  ).

Tim, Kieran and Chris (at a stall in the Queen Victoria Market) know that I always like to buy my turnips, beetroot and celeriac with their green leaves attached – they should never be wasted.

 Iota is a stew-like soup of borlotti beans, potatoes and smoked pork meats. It is a specialty of Trieste and environs and in Trieste is traditionally made with saurkraut, however in  a couple of places close to Trieste the saurkraut, is replaced with turnips.

Iota (a Very Thick Soup From Trieste)

IOTA FROM TRIESTE, Italy made with smoked pork, sauerkraut, borlotti beans

CIME DI RAPE (A winter green)

This is an other one of my favourite winter greens. And it is not a bad bunch!!

In Italian they are called cime di rape – literally translated as turnip tips (cime di rapa is the singular). They are sometimes also called broccoli di rape and are characterised by their strong bitter taste. They are deep green with small yellow flowers.

Cime di rape are certainly a very popular green vegetable and cooked all over Italy. It is particularly associated with the region of Puglia where the traditional classic pasta dish, orecchiette con cime di rape originates (orecchiette meaning little ears).

Cime di rape are members of the brassica or mustard family group. This diverse group includes plants whose leaves, flowers, stems and roots are cooked and eaten. For example popular brassicas include broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, cavolo nero. Some of the roots are kohlrabi, radish, swede and turnips. (By the way, I eat all of the green tops when I can get them and one of my favourite stall holders at the Queen Victoria Markets know this only too well).

A number of Asian greens are members of the brassicas and the Chinese broccoli and mustard greens are very similar in taste to broccoli di rapa.
As far as I know this vegetable can only be found at my favourite stall – Carmel and Gus’s Stall 61-63- in The Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne, but it may also be available in suburban areas where the greengrocer is of Italian heritage.

In Adelaide many of the green grocer shops and vegetable growers are Italians and when I was living there, cime di rape seemed more readily available.  The seeds are easily found especially in shops which sell Italian food – my son and a number of my friends grow them successfully in their Adelaide suburban gardens.

Strangely enough, I came across a patch of luscious looking cime di rape at Heronswood (Digger’s Seeds, Victoria). It is marketed as one of the Green Manures, a bio fumigant crop for soils.

The cime di rape can be eaten as a contorno (side dish of vegetables) and cooked in the same way as Italians cook most greens – wilted and then  tossed around in oil and garlic (I use lots), salt and pepper or chilli, and cooked till softened. If the vegetable is cut small enough, there is no  need to wilt them first.
This is also the way of making a strong pasta sauce for orecchiette.  If you do not use orecchiette, casarecci (right -hand side of photo) or a small tubular pasta which can trap the sauce is suitable.

Peeled-cime-di-rape-stalks-300x232

 

Clean and prepare the cime as you do broccoli – leaves, flowers, stems and stalks. The tough, fibrous outer layer covering can be stripped from the large stalks (see photo above with the fibrous outer layer peeled back – remove this layer entirely).

See: EDIBLE WEEDS: Orecchiette e Broccoletti Selvatici

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