Saturday, July 12, 2008

cima di rapa

As if by magic, suddenly, there is cima di rapa in the garden. Only a week ago, it seemed there was nothing but some unwanted weeds in the raised bed. Then just the other day, the shout came from the lower garden, “There’s rapa!!!” The garden bed is full of slender green stalks and the dainty chartreuse florets.

Cima di rapa, the top of the rapa,(meaning in Italian that this is the part that you eat) also known more commonly here as broccoli rabe. Rapa is a member of the brassica family along with broccolis and cabbages. It’s flavor is delicate and slightly spicy.

We pick the cima di rapa, and assemble garlic, salt and pepper, hot crushed red pepper(a good pinch per person or to taste), extra virgin olive oil, and white wine. (A little water can be used instead of wine.) Caleb chops the rapa into one inch pieces, then gently crushes the garlic cloves(do as many as you’d like, to taste), and heats them in some olive oil. Don’t let the garlic brown. We add the rapa and hot pepper, salt and pepper, and stir well. We add a little splash of the white wine, and we let simmer until tender, maybe ten minutes. In Italy, a cook would remove the garlic cloves, but the cloves can be left in if you want. We toss with orecchiette, but penne works just as well. It’s important to use a short pasta with ridges or cups that the rapa can cling to. We finish with grated parmigiano, and a generous swirl of olive oil.


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