Cima di rapa

May 29, 2009

Last night I cooked this week’s Cima di Rapa (It’s those green leaves that you are probably wondering about!!!). Also known as Turnip Tops and Broccoli Rabe, it’s a wild variety of turnip used a lot in Italian and Chinese cooking with lots of leaves and small loose florets. As you can imagine, it’s fragile so you need to eat it asap and there are lots of reasons to do this – it’s full of Vitamins C, A and B2, Phosphorous and has lots of compounds that are thought to be cancer preventing. It can be eaten in salads but as it has a tendency to be a little bitter I’d suggest a sweeter dressing (try adding a little honey to the vinaigrette). A lot of people find that wilting it first is the way to go but be careful not to overdo it or you’ll end up with a soggy mess. Last  night I steamed it and this worked well as I was able to control how done it got. The stalks are edible but you might want to remove the tougher ends as they’ll take longer to cook and are, well, tougher.

cima di rapa and some broad beans

cima di rapa and some broad beans

The Italians love Cima di Rapa especially in the south where they eat it with Orecchiette (Baby’s Ears Pasta) Garlic  and Chilli. Really you can’t fail with those flavours. If you want to try it it would go something like this…

Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe

You’ll need:

400gr Cima di Rape (about what you have in this week’s bag)

3 Cloves Garlic

1 Red Chilli minced (remove some or all of the seeds if you’re worried it will be too hot)

Olive Oil

Grated Pecorino Cheese or Parmesan

300gr Orecchiette

Put the kettle on for the Pasta then pick over the Broccoli, removing any of the tougher stems. Wash it and tear the leaves with your hands then gently steam for about 3 minutes until the leaves have wilted but are not soggy. Stick on the Pasta then mince the Garlic and gently saute in the generous glug of Olive Oil. Add in the Chilli and when the Garlic and Chilli have both softened and started cooking you can add the Cima di Rapa. Toss everything together to ensure that it all gets coated in oil adding a little more oil as you see fit.

When the Pasta is ready, drain and mix with the Cima di Rapa and a generous handful of Cheese. Serve on warm plates with a little more Cheese.

Variation:

A couple of minced Anchovies wouldn’t go astray here. and A small handful  of Breadcrumbs are really nice and add a lovely crunchiness to the dish.

If you want a side or something to pick at over wine before dinner try this ( The procedure is almost the same as the pasta dish)

Cima di Rapa with toasted Breadcrumbs, Garlic and Chilli

You’ll need:

400gr Cima di Rapa (about what you have in this week’s bag)

3 Cloves Garlic

1 Red Chilli minced (remove some or all of the seeds if you’re worried it will be too hot)

A handful of Breadcrumbs

Olive Oil

Pick over the Broccoli, removing any of the tougher stems. Wash it then tear the leaves with your hands then gently steam for about 3 minutes until the leaves have wilted but are not soggy.  Mince the Garlic and gently saute in the generous glug of Olive Oil. Add in the Chilli and then the breadcrumbs and toss until the Breadcrumbs are toasted.when the Garlic and Chilli have both softened and started cooking you can add the Cima di Rapa. Toss everything together to ensure that everything is coated in oil adding a little more oil as you see fit.

Hope you have a great weekend (the weather forecast is very good I’m told!)

Sarah

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