You may know it as “broccoli rabe,” but any Italian will prickle at that mangled term for their beloved bitter greens. Here’s a crash course on how to pronounce it, cook it and love it, with eight terrific new recipes, read on….
With spring in the air, my thoughts turn to the Italian Easter pie, torta pasqualina, a festive puff pastry dish customarily prepared for consumption on Easter Monday for marauding guests. The tart is more often than not stuffed with ricotta and spinach or chard—the classic greens used for ravioli and such. Emilia-Romagna and Liguria take credit for having invented it (though it seems plausible that country people anywhere would think to put spring greens, foraged or cultivated, into a pastry casing). The torta has been an anticipated ritual for me every season, but this year, I’m making it with a traditional American-style […more…]
Some time back, I wrote a post, “When Bitter is Sweet,” about broccoli rapini, the Italian greens that have taken this country by storm since Balducci’s, the legendary Greenwich Village Italian grocery, imported them here in 1973. Because so many readers said they were relieved to finally learn how to cook them properly to soften their bitter edge, I decided to find out how and why the delicious Brassica, about which there is still such a mystique, was transplanted from the heel of the Italian boot to the farmlands of California. Here’s the update, complete with Andy and Nina Balducci’s […more…]
Cime di rapa (“turnip tops”), broccoli di rapa, broccoletti di rapa, and colloquially, rape or rapini are the Italian terms for what the Americans call “broccoli raab.” The vegetable was virtually unknown when I was growing up in the States. Today, the pleasingly bitter greens the southern Italians love have become mainstream but they are rarely cooked correctly. Whether prepared in restaurants or carry-out shops, I find they are often too bitter–the result of not par-boiling first, or undercooking. This is not a vegetable to cook al dente! This is the Italian way to prepare rapini: Using a sharp paring […more…]