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Benvenuti al Tutti!

Welcome to Luigi's Tastes of Italy

This blog is my small dedication to Italian cooking, and is abolutely 100% free of pretentiousness, complicated ingredients, or any effort to present Italian cuisine as anything other than it really is, very simple.

Hope you enjoy reading my posts and maybe trying out some of the recipes.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Orecchiette Con Cime di Rapa

One of the great successes of this years vegetable plot has undoubtedly been the Broccoli and the Cima Di Rapa. In case you are wondering what on earth Cima di Rapa is. It is basically a loose relation to Broccoli, but is actually a closer relative to Turnips (They are all part of the huge Brassica family).

In fact to many, these are known as Turnip tops, and they taste absolutely wonderful. A sort of bitter, mustardy type taste, but extremely pleasant.

In the part of Italy across from Naples, (Foggia) these are enjoyed in a classic dish called Orecchiette con Cime di Rapa.  Orecchiette being the ear shaped pasta, which hails from the region. The dish basically consists of blanched Cime di Rapa, sauted in a pan with garlic, and dried chilli. Again very simple, but stunningly delicious. 

If you have problems sourcing Cime di Rapa, you could substitute with Broccoli, including some of the leaf, stalks, and just add a teaspoon of  a grained mustard to simulate the bitterness. Recently I have been informed by my American friends, that Cime di Rapa, is known as Broccoli Rapa, or Rapini in the US, or at least they are very similar, so if you see these, bag them! Simlarly, there is no reason why you couldn't use Conchiglie (pasta shells) in lieu of Orechiette.

At this point, I will recommend you try growing some of your own, the seeds for this wonderful vegetable are available from Franchi Seeds. They are pretty much a sow and forget type vegetable, so don't worry if you don't have green fingers. They almost grow themselves.  If your interested in sourcing the pasta, the best Pasta supplier in my opinion, is La Molisana, they stock Orechiette, and a huge number of regional variations, and supply worldwide. So keep an eye out for this brand locally.

(serves 4)

400g orechiette pasta (approx 100g per person)
1 tablespoon of olive oil, or vegetable oil.
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil (the best you can afford)
2 cloves of garlic, chopped small
1 teaspoon of chopped pepperoncini (dried chilli flakes)
15 stalks of cime di rapa, you could use 100g of broccoli, or try a dozen stems of sprouting broccoli.
salt an pepper to season


-Bring some water in a large pan to the boil, and blanch the Cime di Rapa for 2-3 minutes, if using broccoli, do the same.  Remove them from the water using a slotted spoon, set to one side.

-In the same water, add some salt, and throw in the pasta, and cook as per packet instructions.  Normally around 7-8 minutes as a rough guide. No soggy pasta please!

-Meanwhile, in a frying pan, heat the plain olive oil, and once hot, add the garlic, pepperoncini, and the cima di rapa stalks (or broccoli), fry them around on a gentle heat until the pasta is cooked.

-Once the pasta is ready, drain, and add the drained contents to the frying pan, toss around the contents, and add around half the extra virgin olive oil, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

-Pour the pasta into heated plates, and drizzle with more extra virgin olive oil, and finish with grated parmesan reggiano. In the photo on the left, a combination of broccoli and cime di rapa were used.  Incidentally, in case you are wondering why extra virgin olive oil is added at the end, its because to use expensive oil to actually fry with, would be a waste of money. The peppery taste is destroyed by the high temperatues, so just use normal olive oil for the frying process. As always, Enjoy!


Mari said...

That looks so simple and yet very delish...even I can make it =)

Thanks for the recipe! Buen Provecho =)

Kim said...

This sounds great with the pepperocini. I've never seen the cime di rapa here, but we usually do have broccolini, which might be a better choice than broccoli?? I wish I could get my family to eat greens, but this sounds good enough to make just for me!

Ferni's Food said...

Hey luigi I really like your blog. I absolutely love italian food. I would make it more often but then I would gain all the weight I just lost LOL! I really liked reading about how your mom would whip us something out of seemingly nothing. I can relate. Today I made some boxed mac n' cheese but threw in some chicken and bacon and now it's a meal. I would normally never make this but right now my fridge is pretty sad looking and I get paid tmw to go grocery shopping. : )

Luigi said...

Thanks Mari, and for your insightful comment Ferni! Mac 'n Cheese, its delicious. :)

Yes Kim, I totally agree broccolini would most definitely be a better match, than plain broccoli. I think its called "sprouting broccoli" in the UK. I only used plain broccoli as well, because I had it spare. Nothing worse than waste! :)

Velva said...

I have never seen the cime di rapa here in North Florida but, have come across a broccolini or rappini. Maybe, this would be a good substitute. I will have to keep my eyes open in the produce aisle the store or farmers market.

I have been really enjoying your blog posts.

Joanne said...

We call this broccoli rabe or rapini and it is one of my most favoritest veggies EVER. I adore the bitterness of it. My mom always cooked it with some sausage, garlic, oil, and red pepper flakes and then put it over pasta. Definitely my favorite dish from my childhood.

Rita & Mimmo said...

Hai un modo tuo di fare questo piatto ed in generale sono in accordo, una unica cosa mi lascia alquanto perplesso, l'aggiunta finale di Parmigiano. Non è assolutamente canonico, culturalmente e geograficamente è un prodotto lontanissimo da noi.
Puoi trovare nel nostro blog un modo nostro di come realizzare questo piatto, più consono alla tradizione pugliese, ed anche consigli per fare da se le orecchiette o le chiancarelle.
Cio, ti seguo con piacere.

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