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.
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.
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.
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.