Tag Archives: Kohlrabi

KOHLRABI and TENERUMI, shared between cultures of Sicily and Vietnam

No, this is not Sicily, I am in Hanoi, in Vietnam. And the Vietnamese eat kohlrabi and the green leaves just like the Sicilians do. In Hanoi, I have yet to have seen them in restaurants so I do not know how they are cooked.

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See post:

kohlrabi

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My relatives who live in Ragusa (south-eastern region of Sicily) make causuneddi (Sicilian). These are small gnocchi shaped pasta which is known by different names in other regions of Sicily, for example, gnocculi, gnucchiteddi, cavati and caviateddi (in Sicilian).

The kohlrabi that my relatives buy are usually much smaller in size and can also be tinged with purple. They are always boiled with the tender leaves sprouting from the centre of the  and some cotenne, strips of pig skin. The pig skin may not sound very appetising, but they really boost the taste.

Although the kohlrabi are in there, they are very hard to see in this photo below. You can however see the causuneddi.

See post for Causuneddi and Gnucchiteddi

Most of the time the Ragusani add borlotti beans as well. The causuneddi are added to the cooked and boiling soup like mixture last of all. It is like a wet pasta dish and very delicious. Of course, it is never bought to the table without having had fragrant extra virgin olive oil drizzled on top.

In Vietnam, I am also eating the leaves and tendrils of some sort of pumpkin. These greens are very much like tenerumi that the Sicilians love. In Sicily they are made into a soup.

Here in Hanoi they are stir fried with garlic and presented as greens.The photo below shows the pumpkin tendrils.

Although the vegetable markets in Hanoi may look different to those in Sicily, the produce is very fresh and like the Sicilians the Vietnamese shop daily.

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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

 

KOHLRABI with pasta – a wet dish (Causunnedda che cavuli )

Kohlrabi are called cavoli in Sicily (in Italy cavoli are cauliflowers, cavolo verza is a cabbage).

Just to confuse things, Sicilians call cauliflowers broccoli.

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As well as the purple coloured roots there are light green ones; the root is always sold complete with the leaves and the whole plant is eaten.

Kohlrabi can be eaten as a vegetable – boiled with a dressing of extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice, but mostly they are cooked with pasta.

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The kohlrabi I am able to buy at the Queen Victoria Market are always much bigger than the ones in the photos (from market in Syracuse) but unfortunately only one stall sells them complete with the leaves. Because the plant is picked when large, the leaves are not as tender.

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Still, it is better than nothing, and the broth- like pasta dish I make with them tastes rather good, although I could never say that it is as tasty as the one my relatives in Ragusa make. For a start, they make it with home made pasta (called causunedda) and they also put in strips of cutini (cotenne in Italian, pork skin in English) to flavour the vegetable broth. The cutini (from fresh pork) are common in Sicilian cooking especially in Ragusa. They are eaten stuffed, rolled and braised as a secondo (main course), but mainly added to soups (especially pulses) and always as an ingredient to make a strong sugo to dress pasta or the ravioli di ricotta (a local specialty from the south eastern part of Sicily).

The recipe could not be simpler. In the feature photo above and below is Franca, my cousin in Ragusa and she is preparing causunnedda – Sicilian homemade short pasta.

Because I do not make my own causunnedda, I buy gnocchetti shaped pasta or pasta or casareccia.

(See  post GNUCCHITEDDI (Making small gnocchi shapes using my…)

Clean the greens and separate them into manageable pieces; peel the kohlrabi root and cut into bite sized pieces.
Boil them in salted water (add strips of fresh pork rind if you wish). The water will be used as the broth to cook the pasta so calculate the amount of liquid carefully. When the vegetables are soft, drain them, but save the water and the rind. Cook the pasta in the water. Return the vegetable to the water and the pasta. Add chopped chilli or chilli flakes. Now for one of the most important parts: dribble with your finest extra virgin olive oil and serve. It should resemble a wet pasta.
Grated pecorino is placed on the table as an option – I prefer it without. I like the fresh taste of the vegetables and the oil.

The Ragusani also cook the causunnedda with dried beans (in winter). The causunedda are also cooked in the same way using fresh borlotti beans (when in season) and in spring with fresh broad beans. These are cooked without the kohlrabi (which is an autumn – winter vegetable). It is amazing how something so simple can taste so good.
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