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Risotto con Aglio Selvatico e Asparagi – Risotto with Ramps and Asparagus

Risotto con Aglio Selvatico e Asparagi – Risotto with Ramps and Asparagus


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When referring to Italian food, most people immediately think of pasta. But Italy is the greatest rice producing nation in Europe, and the Po River valley in Northern Italy is the largest rice producing region in Italy. We enjoy risotto dishes on our summer cycling tours and winter ski adventures; with each region we visit expressing their culinary history with their own unique variations.

Most US chefs are familiar with the use of two strains of rice for risotto, Arborio and Carnaroli. When we cook together on our Italy tours, however, we use the unique regional strain, Vialone Nano. Developed in 1937 by crossing the Vialone strain with the Nano, it is considered by many to be the premier risotto rice produced in Italy. It is the only European rice with its own IGP quality designation.

I use Vialone Nano rice when in Italy, and when I can find it here in the US. Arborio and Carnaroli are pretty readily available here, and using one of these three varieties is crucial to a successful risotto. These particular strains have shorter, rounder kernels that retain their consistency during cooking, and release the starch that contributes to a nice, creamy risotto.

I always enjoy welcoming fresh spring produce with a new risotto recipe. I came across ramps recently, and of course had to use those during their brief annual appearance.
Allium tricoccum (commonly known as ramps, or wild leeks) is a member of the allium family, which includes leeks, onions, shallots and garlic. Ramps are found across much of the eastern US and Canada. They are similar in appearance to scallions, but with broader green leaves on top, and often a purplish tint to the lower stems. The flavor is more pungent, closer to shallots or a strong garlic. Both the stalks and the leaves are edible. They can be sautéed, grilled, deep fried, even pickled. In Italy, we can find similar wild members of the allium family, wild garlic, or aglio selvatico, along our lovely cycling routes in the Colli Berici or in the Pre Alps near Bassano del Grappa.

When ramps are not available, substitute another member of the allium family, like leeks, onions, shallots and/or garlic. A combination of a couple of these would best match the complexity of the ramps. If using garlic, only saute for a minute or so before adding the rice, to keep it from overcooking.

A great wine to enjoy with this would be a Garganega from the Gambellara wine zone, near the Colli Berici, or a Vespaiolo from Breganze, just west of Bassano.

Risotto con Aglio Selvatico e Asparagi (Risotto with Ramps and Asparagus)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
12 stalks of asparagus, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
4 cups low salt chicken or vegetable broth
1 small bunch of ramps – about 12 or so, cleaned and roots trimmed, stalks chopped and leaves sliced, separated
1 1/2 cups risotto rice, such as vialone nano, arborio or carnaroli
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
zest of one lemon

In a large sauté pan, heat the butter until foaming, then add the asparagus and sauté until softened, about 3-4 minutes, depending on thickness. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from pan and set aside.

Bring the broth to a boil in a large pot. Reduce the heat to very low; the broth should stay hot but not simmer and reduce.

Add the olive oil to the large sauté pan, and place over medium heat. Add a handful of the chopped ramp stalks, and cook slowly, stirring frequently until softened, 1 to 2 minutes. Keep the remainder of the leaves for another use.

Add the risotto rice to the pan. Cook, stirring constantly to coat the rice with the oil, about 3 minutes.

Pour in the wine and cook, stirring constantly, until it’s mostly absorbed, about 4 minutes.

Ladle in 1/2 cups of the broth, and stir. Adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, and stir occasionally. When very little of the liquid remains, and the rice is dry enough that your stirring spoon leaves a trail showing the bottom of the pot, add in another 1/2 cup of broth, again stirring until it’s all absorbed. Continue adding broth in 1/2 cup increments, stirring, until the rice is nearly al dente; this is usually 12 to 16 minutes after the first addition of liquid.

Stir in the ramp leaves and reserved asparagus. Add a bit more broth, and cook until al dente; do not overcook, and don’t feel you need to use all the stock. Add the lemon zest, cheese, and season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.


Rapini all’Aglio, Olio e Peperoncini

Discovering the distinctive local products of Italy is a unique and intriguing part of any Italiaoutdoors Food and Wine Italy tour, an activity that requires extensive local knowledge. There are countless local varieties of plants that are incorporated into the traditional cuisine and wines of Italy. But due to this country’s unique geography, these particular species have been isolated to a small area, and may only be found and used within a couple of kilometers. More and more local trattorie in Italy are offering “0km menus”, featuring these local specialties, and are a favorite spot to include on our tours.

Spring in Italy

Here’s a quote from one of my favorite Italy cookbooks, Osteria: 1,000 Generous and Simple Recipes from Italy’s Best Local Restaurants, from a recipe for a Foraged Greens and Herbs soup from Lombardia – “Ramps, maidenstears, pellitory-of-the wall nettles, primrose, violets, meadow clary, tender linden leaves, good king Henry, purple salsify, baby lettuce, sorrel, shepard’s purse, wild cardoon shoots, thyme, oregano: these are just some of the wild greens and herbs that can be foraged in the area in and around Bergamo.” (a city in Lombardia, near Lake Como.) Foraging – almost unheard of here – is still practiced commonly in the Italian countryside. Travel 20 km down the road, and this list of foraged plants will be different!

When I return to Italy in a few short weeks, I will find Fiolaro di Creazzo, a local broccoli, at my neighborhood produce vendor. Fiolaro broccoli is unique, as it does not resemble other varieties of broccoli either in form or in taste. It does not form a flower, but instead produces small secondary shoots along the stem of the plant which are called fioi and have given this plant its name. Grown on the hills of Creazzo, just west of Vicenza, this plant flourishes in the rich soil on south facing slopes, where the winter is dry, not too cold, but with brief November frost (-8/10°C) that makes the fiolaro more tasty.

To find many of these greens, you have to travel to Italy. But a few we can find here in the US include the Tuscan or Lacinato kale, in Italian cavolo nero, or black kale. This kale has long, dark green, narrow leaves with a bumpy surface. As with the Fiolaro, the most flavorful have been through at least one frost. In Tuscany it finds it’s way into the favorite Ribollita Toscana soup, or served on a crostini with lots of fresh olive oil.

Rapini or Cime di Rapa or known in the US as Broccoli Rabe, is a member of the cabbage family. It has a 6 to 9 inch stalks with a few broccoli-like clusters, both of which are edible. This green has a distinctive bitter taste, and appears most often in southern Italian cuisines, including Campania (where it is called friarielli) and Puglia, (where it is called cime di rapa).

I have a few articles in the works that call for cooked greens, so I needed to start with a basic recipe. I have many a recipe for spicy sauteed greens from all parts of Italy. But the one fault I have with the vast majority of original Italian recipes is a lack of precise, detailed instructions. Italian assume everyone knows how to cook, so only general guidelines are necessary. The long lost ex-engineer in me can’t just live with this state of affairs.

So I turned to a non-Italian cookbook that is a great resource for those of us who want to know “why” we cook something a certain way: Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking by Samin Nosrat. Books like these, that contained well-tested recipes, clear and detailed instructions, inspire my rewrites of the Italian originals so my readers and our clients can reproduce the wonderful dishes we taste on tour back at home.

Nosrat’s recipe follows – it uses the very same ingredients found in the Italian versions of this recipe, but offers much more complete instructions, including when to season, how to add and Incorporate the garlic without burning it. You can apply this same technique to other greens like kale and mustard greens, with some adjustment on the length of cooking time.

Nosrat serves this with Ricotta Salata cheese (a dry, salted ricotta) which I find only rarely here in the US. Any good quality hard cheese, such as Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano, will work too.

Rapini all’Aglio, Olio e Peperoncini – Spicy Broccoli Rabe

2 bunches (about 2 pounds) broccoli rabe, rinsed
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
Kosher salt
Big pinch hot red pepper flakes
3 garlic cloves, sliced
1 lemon

Cut off and discard the woody ends of the broccoli rabe. Slice the stems into 1/2-inch long pieces, and the leaves into 1-inch pieces.

Set a large Dutch oven or similar pot over medium heat. When it’s hot, add 2 tablespoons olive oil to coat the bottom of the pot. When the oil shimmers, add the onion and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and beginning to brown, about 15 minutes.

Increase the heat to medium-high, add another tablespoon or so of oil, and the broccoli rabe to the pot, and stir to combine. Season with salt and red pepper flakes. You might need to mound the broccoli rabe to make it fit, or wait for some of it to cook down before you add the rest. Cover the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the broccoli rabe is falling apart tender, about 20 minutes.

Remove the lid and increase the heat to high. Let the broccoli begin to brown, then use a wooden spoon to move it around the pan. Continue cooking until all the broccoli has evenly browned, about 10 minutes, then move it all to the outer edges of the pan. Add a tablespoon of olive oil into the center, then add the garlic into the oil and let it sizzle gently for about 2 seconds, until it starts to release an aroma. Before the garlic begins to brown, stir to combine it with the broccoli. Taste and adjust the salt and red pepper flakes as needed. Remove from heat and squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the broccoli.

Stir, taste, and add more lemon juice if needed. Heap onto a serving platter and shower with coarsely grated cheese. Serve immediately.


Rapini all’Aglio, Olio e Peperoncini

Discovering the distinctive local products of Italy is a unique and intriguing part of any Italiaoutdoors Food and Wine Italy tour, an activity that requires extensive local knowledge. There are countless local varieties of plants that are incorporated into the traditional cuisine and wines of Italy. But due to this country’s unique geography, these particular species have been isolated to a small area, and may only be found and used within a couple of kilometers. More and more local trattorie in Italy are offering “0km menus”, featuring these local specialties, and are a favorite spot to include on our tours.

Spring in Italy

Here’s a quote from one of my favorite Italy cookbooks, Osteria: 1,000 Generous and Simple Recipes from Italy’s Best Local Restaurants, from a recipe for a Foraged Greens and Herbs soup from Lombardia – “Ramps, maidenstears, pellitory-of-the wall nettles, primrose, violets, meadow clary, tender linden leaves, good king Henry, purple salsify, baby lettuce, sorrel, shepard’s purse, wild cardoon shoots, thyme, oregano: these are just some of the wild greens and herbs that can be foraged in the area in and around Bergamo.” (a city in Lombardia, near Lake Como.) Foraging – almost unheard of here – is still practiced commonly in the Italian countryside. Travel 20 km down the road, and this list of foraged plants will be different!

When I return to Italy in a few short weeks, I will find Fiolaro di Creazzo, a local broccoli, at my neighborhood produce vendor. Fiolaro broccoli is unique, as it does not resemble other varieties of broccoli either in form or in taste. It does not form a flower, but instead produces small secondary shoots along the stem of the plant which are called fioi and have given this plant its name. Grown on the hills of Creazzo, just west of Vicenza, this plant flourishes in the rich soil on south facing slopes, where the winter is dry, not too cold, but with brief November frost (-8/10°C) that makes the fiolaro more tasty.

To find many of these greens, you have to travel to Italy. But a few we can find here in the US include the Tuscan or Lacinato kale, in Italian cavolo nero, or black kale. This kale has long, dark green, narrow leaves with a bumpy surface. As with the Fiolaro, the most flavorful have been through at least one frost. In Tuscany it finds it’s way into the favorite Ribollita Toscana soup, or served on a crostini with lots of fresh olive oil.

Rapini or Cime di Rapa or known in the US as Broccoli Rabe, is a member of the cabbage family. It has a 6 to 9 inch stalks with a few broccoli-like clusters, both of which are edible. This green has a distinctive bitter taste, and appears most often in southern Italian cuisines, including Campania (where it is called friarielli) and Puglia, (where it is called cime di rapa).

I have a few articles in the works that call for cooked greens, so I needed to start with a basic recipe. I have many a recipe for spicy sauteed greens from all parts of Italy. But the one fault I have with the vast majority of original Italian recipes is a lack of precise, detailed instructions. Italian assume everyone knows how to cook, so only general guidelines are necessary. The long lost ex-engineer in me can’t just live with this state of affairs.

So I turned to a non-Italian cookbook that is a great resource for those of us who want to know “why” we cook something a certain way: Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking by Samin Nosrat. Books like these, that contained well-tested recipes, clear and detailed instructions, inspire my rewrites of the Italian originals so my readers and our clients can reproduce the wonderful dishes we taste on tour back at home.

Nosrat’s recipe follows – it uses the very same ingredients found in the Italian versions of this recipe, but offers much more complete instructions, including when to season, how to add and Incorporate the garlic without burning it. You can apply this same technique to other greens like kale and mustard greens, with some adjustment on the length of cooking time.

Nosrat serves this with Ricotta Salata cheese (a dry, salted ricotta) which I find only rarely here in the US. Any good quality hard cheese, such as Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano, will work too.

Rapini all’Aglio, Olio e Peperoncini – Spicy Broccoli Rabe

2 bunches (about 2 pounds) broccoli rabe, rinsed
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
Kosher salt
Big pinch hot red pepper flakes
3 garlic cloves, sliced
1 lemon

Cut off and discard the woody ends of the broccoli rabe. Slice the stems into 1/2-inch long pieces, and the leaves into 1-inch pieces.

Set a large Dutch oven or similar pot over medium heat. When it’s hot, add 2 tablespoons olive oil to coat the bottom of the pot. When the oil shimmers, add the onion and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and beginning to brown, about 15 minutes.

Increase the heat to medium-high, add another tablespoon or so of oil, and the broccoli rabe to the pot, and stir to combine. Season with salt and red pepper flakes. You might need to mound the broccoli rabe to make it fit, or wait for some of it to cook down before you add the rest. Cover the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the broccoli rabe is falling apart tender, about 20 minutes.

Remove the lid and increase the heat to high. Let the broccoli begin to brown, then use a wooden spoon to move it around the pan. Continue cooking until all the broccoli has evenly browned, about 10 minutes, then move it all to the outer edges of the pan. Add a tablespoon of olive oil into the center, then add the garlic into the oil and let it sizzle gently for about 2 seconds, until it starts to release an aroma. Before the garlic begins to brown, stir to combine it with the broccoli. Taste and adjust the salt and red pepper flakes as needed. Remove from heat and squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the broccoli.

Stir, taste, and add more lemon juice if needed. Heap onto a serving platter and shower with coarsely grated cheese. Serve immediately.


Rapini all’Aglio, Olio e Peperoncini

Discovering the distinctive local products of Italy is a unique and intriguing part of any Italiaoutdoors Food and Wine Italy tour, an activity that requires extensive local knowledge. There are countless local varieties of plants that are incorporated into the traditional cuisine and wines of Italy. But due to this country’s unique geography, these particular species have been isolated to a small area, and may only be found and used within a couple of kilometers. More and more local trattorie in Italy are offering “0km menus”, featuring these local specialties, and are a favorite spot to include on our tours.

Spring in Italy

Here’s a quote from one of my favorite Italy cookbooks, Osteria: 1,000 Generous and Simple Recipes from Italy’s Best Local Restaurants, from a recipe for a Foraged Greens and Herbs soup from Lombardia – “Ramps, maidenstears, pellitory-of-the wall nettles, primrose, violets, meadow clary, tender linden leaves, good king Henry, purple salsify, baby lettuce, sorrel, shepard’s purse, wild cardoon shoots, thyme, oregano: these are just some of the wild greens and herbs that can be foraged in the area in and around Bergamo.” (a city in Lombardia, near Lake Como.) Foraging – almost unheard of here – is still practiced commonly in the Italian countryside. Travel 20 km down the road, and this list of foraged plants will be different!

When I return to Italy in a few short weeks, I will find Fiolaro di Creazzo, a local broccoli, at my neighborhood produce vendor. Fiolaro broccoli is unique, as it does not resemble other varieties of broccoli either in form or in taste. It does not form a flower, but instead produces small secondary shoots along the stem of the plant which are called fioi and have given this plant its name. Grown on the hills of Creazzo, just west of Vicenza, this plant flourishes in the rich soil on south facing slopes, where the winter is dry, not too cold, but with brief November frost (-8/10°C) that makes the fiolaro more tasty.

To find many of these greens, you have to travel to Italy. But a few we can find here in the US include the Tuscan or Lacinato kale, in Italian cavolo nero, or black kale. This kale has long, dark green, narrow leaves with a bumpy surface. As with the Fiolaro, the most flavorful have been through at least one frost. In Tuscany it finds it’s way into the favorite Ribollita Toscana soup, or served on a crostini with lots of fresh olive oil.

Rapini or Cime di Rapa or known in the US as Broccoli Rabe, is a member of the cabbage family. It has a 6 to 9 inch stalks with a few broccoli-like clusters, both of which are edible. This green has a distinctive bitter taste, and appears most often in southern Italian cuisines, including Campania (where it is called friarielli) and Puglia, (where it is called cime di rapa).

I have a few articles in the works that call for cooked greens, so I needed to start with a basic recipe. I have many a recipe for spicy sauteed greens from all parts of Italy. But the one fault I have with the vast majority of original Italian recipes is a lack of precise, detailed instructions. Italian assume everyone knows how to cook, so only general guidelines are necessary. The long lost ex-engineer in me can’t just live with this state of affairs.

So I turned to a non-Italian cookbook that is a great resource for those of us who want to know “why” we cook something a certain way: Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking by Samin Nosrat. Books like these, that contained well-tested recipes, clear and detailed instructions, inspire my rewrites of the Italian originals so my readers and our clients can reproduce the wonderful dishes we taste on tour back at home.

Nosrat’s recipe follows – it uses the very same ingredients found in the Italian versions of this recipe, but offers much more complete instructions, including when to season, how to add and Incorporate the garlic without burning it. You can apply this same technique to other greens like kale and mustard greens, with some adjustment on the length of cooking time.

Nosrat serves this with Ricotta Salata cheese (a dry, salted ricotta) which I find only rarely here in the US. Any good quality hard cheese, such as Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano, will work too.

Rapini all’Aglio, Olio e Peperoncini – Spicy Broccoli Rabe

2 bunches (about 2 pounds) broccoli rabe, rinsed
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
Kosher salt
Big pinch hot red pepper flakes
3 garlic cloves, sliced
1 lemon

Cut off and discard the woody ends of the broccoli rabe. Slice the stems into 1/2-inch long pieces, and the leaves into 1-inch pieces.

Set a large Dutch oven or similar pot over medium heat. When it’s hot, add 2 tablespoons olive oil to coat the bottom of the pot. When the oil shimmers, add the onion and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and beginning to brown, about 15 minutes.

Increase the heat to medium-high, add another tablespoon or so of oil, and the broccoli rabe to the pot, and stir to combine. Season with salt and red pepper flakes. You might need to mound the broccoli rabe to make it fit, or wait for some of it to cook down before you add the rest. Cover the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the broccoli rabe is falling apart tender, about 20 minutes.

Remove the lid and increase the heat to high. Let the broccoli begin to brown, then use a wooden spoon to move it around the pan. Continue cooking until all the broccoli has evenly browned, about 10 minutes, then move it all to the outer edges of the pan. Add a tablespoon of olive oil into the center, then add the garlic into the oil and let it sizzle gently for about 2 seconds, until it starts to release an aroma. Before the garlic begins to brown, stir to combine it with the broccoli. Taste and adjust the salt and red pepper flakes as needed. Remove from heat and squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the broccoli.

Stir, taste, and add more lemon juice if needed. Heap onto a serving platter and shower with coarsely grated cheese. Serve immediately.


Rapini all’Aglio, Olio e Peperoncini

Discovering the distinctive local products of Italy is a unique and intriguing part of any Italiaoutdoors Food and Wine Italy tour, an activity that requires extensive local knowledge. There are countless local varieties of plants that are incorporated into the traditional cuisine and wines of Italy. But due to this country’s unique geography, these particular species have been isolated to a small area, and may only be found and used within a couple of kilometers. More and more local trattorie in Italy are offering “0km menus”, featuring these local specialties, and are a favorite spot to include on our tours.

Spring in Italy

Here’s a quote from one of my favorite Italy cookbooks, Osteria: 1,000 Generous and Simple Recipes from Italy’s Best Local Restaurants, from a recipe for a Foraged Greens and Herbs soup from Lombardia – “Ramps, maidenstears, pellitory-of-the wall nettles, primrose, violets, meadow clary, tender linden leaves, good king Henry, purple salsify, baby lettuce, sorrel, shepard’s purse, wild cardoon shoots, thyme, oregano: these are just some of the wild greens and herbs that can be foraged in the area in and around Bergamo.” (a city in Lombardia, near Lake Como.) Foraging – almost unheard of here – is still practiced commonly in the Italian countryside. Travel 20 km down the road, and this list of foraged plants will be different!

When I return to Italy in a few short weeks, I will find Fiolaro di Creazzo, a local broccoli, at my neighborhood produce vendor. Fiolaro broccoli is unique, as it does not resemble other varieties of broccoli either in form or in taste. It does not form a flower, but instead produces small secondary shoots along the stem of the plant which are called fioi and have given this plant its name. Grown on the hills of Creazzo, just west of Vicenza, this plant flourishes in the rich soil on south facing slopes, where the winter is dry, not too cold, but with brief November frost (-8/10°C) that makes the fiolaro more tasty.

To find many of these greens, you have to travel to Italy. But a few we can find here in the US include the Tuscan or Lacinato kale, in Italian cavolo nero, or black kale. This kale has long, dark green, narrow leaves with a bumpy surface. As with the Fiolaro, the most flavorful have been through at least one frost. In Tuscany it finds it’s way into the favorite Ribollita Toscana soup, or served on a crostini with lots of fresh olive oil.

Rapini or Cime di Rapa or known in the US as Broccoli Rabe, is a member of the cabbage family. It has a 6 to 9 inch stalks with a few broccoli-like clusters, both of which are edible. This green has a distinctive bitter taste, and appears most often in southern Italian cuisines, including Campania (where it is called friarielli) and Puglia, (where it is called cime di rapa).

I have a few articles in the works that call for cooked greens, so I needed to start with a basic recipe. I have many a recipe for spicy sauteed greens from all parts of Italy. But the one fault I have with the vast majority of original Italian recipes is a lack of precise, detailed instructions. Italian assume everyone knows how to cook, so only general guidelines are necessary. The long lost ex-engineer in me can’t just live with this state of affairs.

So I turned to a non-Italian cookbook that is a great resource for those of us who want to know “why” we cook something a certain way: Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking by Samin Nosrat. Books like these, that contained well-tested recipes, clear and detailed instructions, inspire my rewrites of the Italian originals so my readers and our clients can reproduce the wonderful dishes we taste on tour back at home.

Nosrat’s recipe follows – it uses the very same ingredients found in the Italian versions of this recipe, but offers much more complete instructions, including when to season, how to add and Incorporate the garlic without burning it. You can apply this same technique to other greens like kale and mustard greens, with some adjustment on the length of cooking time.

Nosrat serves this with Ricotta Salata cheese (a dry, salted ricotta) which I find only rarely here in the US. Any good quality hard cheese, such as Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano, will work too.

Rapini all’Aglio, Olio e Peperoncini – Spicy Broccoli Rabe

2 bunches (about 2 pounds) broccoli rabe, rinsed
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
Kosher salt
Big pinch hot red pepper flakes
3 garlic cloves, sliced
1 lemon

Cut off and discard the woody ends of the broccoli rabe. Slice the stems into 1/2-inch long pieces, and the leaves into 1-inch pieces.

Set a large Dutch oven or similar pot over medium heat. When it’s hot, add 2 tablespoons olive oil to coat the bottom of the pot. When the oil shimmers, add the onion and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and beginning to brown, about 15 minutes.

Increase the heat to medium-high, add another tablespoon or so of oil, and the broccoli rabe to the pot, and stir to combine. Season with salt and red pepper flakes. You might need to mound the broccoli rabe to make it fit, or wait for some of it to cook down before you add the rest. Cover the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the broccoli rabe is falling apart tender, about 20 minutes.

Remove the lid and increase the heat to high. Let the broccoli begin to brown, then use a wooden spoon to move it around the pan. Continue cooking until all the broccoli has evenly browned, about 10 minutes, then move it all to the outer edges of the pan. Add a tablespoon of olive oil into the center, then add the garlic into the oil and let it sizzle gently for about 2 seconds, until it starts to release an aroma. Before the garlic begins to brown, stir to combine it with the broccoli. Taste and adjust the salt and red pepper flakes as needed. Remove from heat and squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the broccoli.

Stir, taste, and add more lemon juice if needed. Heap onto a serving platter and shower with coarsely grated cheese. Serve immediately.


Rapini all’Aglio, Olio e Peperoncini

Discovering the distinctive local products of Italy is a unique and intriguing part of any Italiaoutdoors Food and Wine Italy tour, an activity that requires extensive local knowledge. There are countless local varieties of plants that are incorporated into the traditional cuisine and wines of Italy. But due to this country’s unique geography, these particular species have been isolated to a small area, and may only be found and used within a couple of kilometers. More and more local trattorie in Italy are offering “0km menus”, featuring these local specialties, and are a favorite spot to include on our tours.

Spring in Italy

Here’s a quote from one of my favorite Italy cookbooks, Osteria: 1,000 Generous and Simple Recipes from Italy’s Best Local Restaurants, from a recipe for a Foraged Greens and Herbs soup from Lombardia – “Ramps, maidenstears, pellitory-of-the wall nettles, primrose, violets, meadow clary, tender linden leaves, good king Henry, purple salsify, baby lettuce, sorrel, shepard’s purse, wild cardoon shoots, thyme, oregano: these are just some of the wild greens and herbs that can be foraged in the area in and around Bergamo.” (a city in Lombardia, near Lake Como.) Foraging – almost unheard of here – is still practiced commonly in the Italian countryside. Travel 20 km down the road, and this list of foraged plants will be different!

When I return to Italy in a few short weeks, I will find Fiolaro di Creazzo, a local broccoli, at my neighborhood produce vendor. Fiolaro broccoli is unique, as it does not resemble other varieties of broccoli either in form or in taste. It does not form a flower, but instead produces small secondary shoots along the stem of the plant which are called fioi and have given this plant its name. Grown on the hills of Creazzo, just west of Vicenza, this plant flourishes in the rich soil on south facing slopes, where the winter is dry, not too cold, but with brief November frost (-8/10°C) that makes the fiolaro more tasty.

To find many of these greens, you have to travel to Italy. But a few we can find here in the US include the Tuscan or Lacinato kale, in Italian cavolo nero, or black kale. This kale has long, dark green, narrow leaves with a bumpy surface. As with the Fiolaro, the most flavorful have been through at least one frost. In Tuscany it finds it’s way into the favorite Ribollita Toscana soup, or served on a crostini with lots of fresh olive oil.

Rapini or Cime di Rapa or known in the US as Broccoli Rabe, is a member of the cabbage family. It has a 6 to 9 inch stalks with a few broccoli-like clusters, both of which are edible. This green has a distinctive bitter taste, and appears most often in southern Italian cuisines, including Campania (where it is called friarielli) and Puglia, (where it is called cime di rapa).

I have a few articles in the works that call for cooked greens, so I needed to start with a basic recipe. I have many a recipe for spicy sauteed greens from all parts of Italy. But the one fault I have with the vast majority of original Italian recipes is a lack of precise, detailed instructions. Italian assume everyone knows how to cook, so only general guidelines are necessary. The long lost ex-engineer in me can’t just live with this state of affairs.

So I turned to a non-Italian cookbook that is a great resource for those of us who want to know “why” we cook something a certain way: Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking by Samin Nosrat. Books like these, that contained well-tested recipes, clear and detailed instructions, inspire my rewrites of the Italian originals so my readers and our clients can reproduce the wonderful dishes we taste on tour back at home.

Nosrat’s recipe follows – it uses the very same ingredients found in the Italian versions of this recipe, but offers much more complete instructions, including when to season, how to add and Incorporate the garlic without burning it. You can apply this same technique to other greens like kale and mustard greens, with some adjustment on the length of cooking time.

Nosrat serves this with Ricotta Salata cheese (a dry, salted ricotta) which I find only rarely here in the US. Any good quality hard cheese, such as Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano, will work too.

Rapini all’Aglio, Olio e Peperoncini – Spicy Broccoli Rabe

2 bunches (about 2 pounds) broccoli rabe, rinsed
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
Kosher salt
Big pinch hot red pepper flakes
3 garlic cloves, sliced
1 lemon

Cut off and discard the woody ends of the broccoli rabe. Slice the stems into 1/2-inch long pieces, and the leaves into 1-inch pieces.

Set a large Dutch oven or similar pot over medium heat. When it’s hot, add 2 tablespoons olive oil to coat the bottom of the pot. When the oil shimmers, add the onion and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and beginning to brown, about 15 minutes.

Increase the heat to medium-high, add another tablespoon or so of oil, and the broccoli rabe to the pot, and stir to combine. Season with salt and red pepper flakes. You might need to mound the broccoli rabe to make it fit, or wait for some of it to cook down before you add the rest. Cover the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the broccoli rabe is falling apart tender, about 20 minutes.

Remove the lid and increase the heat to high. Let the broccoli begin to brown, then use a wooden spoon to move it around the pan. Continue cooking until all the broccoli has evenly browned, about 10 minutes, then move it all to the outer edges of the pan. Add a tablespoon of olive oil into the center, then add the garlic into the oil and let it sizzle gently for about 2 seconds, until it starts to release an aroma. Before the garlic begins to brown, stir to combine it with the broccoli. Taste and adjust the salt and red pepper flakes as needed. Remove from heat and squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the broccoli.

Stir, taste, and add more lemon juice if needed. Heap onto a serving platter and shower with coarsely grated cheese. Serve immediately.


Rapini all’Aglio, Olio e Peperoncini

Discovering the distinctive local products of Italy is a unique and intriguing part of any Italiaoutdoors Food and Wine Italy tour, an activity that requires extensive local knowledge. There are countless local varieties of plants that are incorporated into the traditional cuisine and wines of Italy. But due to this country’s unique geography, these particular species have been isolated to a small area, and may only be found and used within a couple of kilometers. More and more local trattorie in Italy are offering “0km menus”, featuring these local specialties, and are a favorite spot to include on our tours.

Spring in Italy

Here’s a quote from one of my favorite Italy cookbooks, Osteria: 1,000 Generous and Simple Recipes from Italy’s Best Local Restaurants, from a recipe for a Foraged Greens and Herbs soup from Lombardia – “Ramps, maidenstears, pellitory-of-the wall nettles, primrose, violets, meadow clary, tender linden leaves, good king Henry, purple salsify, baby lettuce, sorrel, shepard’s purse, wild cardoon shoots, thyme, oregano: these are just some of the wild greens and herbs that can be foraged in the area in and around Bergamo.” (a city in Lombardia, near Lake Como.) Foraging – almost unheard of here – is still practiced commonly in the Italian countryside. Travel 20 km down the road, and this list of foraged plants will be different!

When I return to Italy in a few short weeks, I will find Fiolaro di Creazzo, a local broccoli, at my neighborhood produce vendor. Fiolaro broccoli is unique, as it does not resemble other varieties of broccoli either in form or in taste. It does not form a flower, but instead produces small secondary shoots along the stem of the plant which are called fioi and have given this plant its name. Grown on the hills of Creazzo, just west of Vicenza, this plant flourishes in the rich soil on south facing slopes, where the winter is dry, not too cold, but with brief November frost (-8/10°C) that makes the fiolaro more tasty.

To find many of these greens, you have to travel to Italy. But a few we can find here in the US include the Tuscan or Lacinato kale, in Italian cavolo nero, or black kale. This kale has long, dark green, narrow leaves with a bumpy surface. As with the Fiolaro, the most flavorful have been through at least one frost. In Tuscany it finds it’s way into the favorite Ribollita Toscana soup, or served on a crostini with lots of fresh olive oil.

Rapini or Cime di Rapa or known in the US as Broccoli Rabe, is a member of the cabbage family. It has a 6 to 9 inch stalks with a few broccoli-like clusters, both of which are edible. This green has a distinctive bitter taste, and appears most often in southern Italian cuisines, including Campania (where it is called friarielli) and Puglia, (where it is called cime di rapa).

I have a few articles in the works that call for cooked greens, so I needed to start with a basic recipe. I have many a recipe for spicy sauteed greens from all parts of Italy. But the one fault I have with the vast majority of original Italian recipes is a lack of precise, detailed instructions. Italian assume everyone knows how to cook, so only general guidelines are necessary. The long lost ex-engineer in me can’t just live with this state of affairs.

So I turned to a non-Italian cookbook that is a great resource for those of us who want to know “why” we cook something a certain way: Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking by Samin Nosrat. Books like these, that contained well-tested recipes, clear and detailed instructions, inspire my rewrites of the Italian originals so my readers and our clients can reproduce the wonderful dishes we taste on tour back at home.

Nosrat’s recipe follows – it uses the very same ingredients found in the Italian versions of this recipe, but offers much more complete instructions, including when to season, how to add and Incorporate the garlic without burning it. You can apply this same technique to other greens like kale and mustard greens, with some adjustment on the length of cooking time.

Nosrat serves this with Ricotta Salata cheese (a dry, salted ricotta) which I find only rarely here in the US. Any good quality hard cheese, such as Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano, will work too.

Rapini all’Aglio, Olio e Peperoncini – Spicy Broccoli Rabe

2 bunches (about 2 pounds) broccoli rabe, rinsed
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
Kosher salt
Big pinch hot red pepper flakes
3 garlic cloves, sliced
1 lemon

Cut off and discard the woody ends of the broccoli rabe. Slice the stems into 1/2-inch long pieces, and the leaves into 1-inch pieces.

Set a large Dutch oven or similar pot over medium heat. When it’s hot, add 2 tablespoons olive oil to coat the bottom of the pot. When the oil shimmers, add the onion and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and beginning to brown, about 15 minutes.

Increase the heat to medium-high, add another tablespoon or so of oil, and the broccoli rabe to the pot, and stir to combine. Season with salt and red pepper flakes. You might need to mound the broccoli rabe to make it fit, or wait for some of it to cook down before you add the rest. Cover the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the broccoli rabe is falling apart tender, about 20 minutes.

Remove the lid and increase the heat to high. Let the broccoli begin to brown, then use a wooden spoon to move it around the pan. Continue cooking until all the broccoli has evenly browned, about 10 minutes, then move it all to the outer edges of the pan. Add a tablespoon of olive oil into the center, then add the garlic into the oil and let it sizzle gently for about 2 seconds, until it starts to release an aroma. Before the garlic begins to brown, stir to combine it with the broccoli. Taste and adjust the salt and red pepper flakes as needed. Remove from heat and squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the broccoli.

Stir, taste, and add more lemon juice if needed. Heap onto a serving platter and shower with coarsely grated cheese. Serve immediately.


Rapini all’Aglio, Olio e Peperoncini

Discovering the distinctive local products of Italy is a unique and intriguing part of any Italiaoutdoors Food and Wine Italy tour, an activity that requires extensive local knowledge. There are countless local varieties of plants that are incorporated into the traditional cuisine and wines of Italy. But due to this country’s unique geography, these particular species have been isolated to a small area, and may only be found and used within a couple of kilometers. More and more local trattorie in Italy are offering “0km menus”, featuring these local specialties, and are a favorite spot to include on our tours.

Spring in Italy

Here’s a quote from one of my favorite Italy cookbooks, Osteria: 1,000 Generous and Simple Recipes from Italy’s Best Local Restaurants, from a recipe for a Foraged Greens and Herbs soup from Lombardia – “Ramps, maidenstears, pellitory-of-the wall nettles, primrose, violets, meadow clary, tender linden leaves, good king Henry, purple salsify, baby lettuce, sorrel, shepard’s purse, wild cardoon shoots, thyme, oregano: these are just some of the wild greens and herbs that can be foraged in the area in and around Bergamo.” (a city in Lombardia, near Lake Como.) Foraging – almost unheard of here – is still practiced commonly in the Italian countryside. Travel 20 km down the road, and this list of foraged plants will be different!

When I return to Italy in a few short weeks, I will find Fiolaro di Creazzo, a local broccoli, at my neighborhood produce vendor. Fiolaro broccoli is unique, as it does not resemble other varieties of broccoli either in form or in taste. It does not form a flower, but instead produces small secondary shoots along the stem of the plant which are called fioi and have given this plant its name. Grown on the hills of Creazzo, just west of Vicenza, this plant flourishes in the rich soil on south facing slopes, where the winter is dry, not too cold, but with brief November frost (-8/10°C) that makes the fiolaro more tasty.

To find many of these greens, you have to travel to Italy. But a few we can find here in the US include the Tuscan or Lacinato kale, in Italian cavolo nero, or black kale. This kale has long, dark green, narrow leaves with a bumpy surface. As with the Fiolaro, the most flavorful have been through at least one frost. In Tuscany it finds it’s way into the favorite Ribollita Toscana soup, or served on a crostini with lots of fresh olive oil.

Rapini or Cime di Rapa or known in the US as Broccoli Rabe, is a member of the cabbage family. It has a 6 to 9 inch stalks with a few broccoli-like clusters, both of which are edible. This green has a distinctive bitter taste, and appears most often in southern Italian cuisines, including Campania (where it is called friarielli) and Puglia, (where it is called cime di rapa).

I have a few articles in the works that call for cooked greens, so I needed to start with a basic recipe. I have many a recipe for spicy sauteed greens from all parts of Italy. But the one fault I have with the vast majority of original Italian recipes is a lack of precise, detailed instructions. Italian assume everyone knows how to cook, so only general guidelines are necessary. The long lost ex-engineer in me can’t just live with this state of affairs.

So I turned to a non-Italian cookbook that is a great resource for those of us who want to know “why” we cook something a certain way: Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking by Samin Nosrat. Books like these, that contained well-tested recipes, clear and detailed instructions, inspire my rewrites of the Italian originals so my readers and our clients can reproduce the wonderful dishes we taste on tour back at home.

Nosrat’s recipe follows – it uses the very same ingredients found in the Italian versions of this recipe, but offers much more complete instructions, including when to season, how to add and Incorporate the garlic without burning it. You can apply this same technique to other greens like kale and mustard greens, with some adjustment on the length of cooking time.

Nosrat serves this with Ricotta Salata cheese (a dry, salted ricotta) which I find only rarely here in the US. Any good quality hard cheese, such as Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano, will work too.

Rapini all’Aglio, Olio e Peperoncini – Spicy Broccoli Rabe

2 bunches (about 2 pounds) broccoli rabe, rinsed
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
Kosher salt
Big pinch hot red pepper flakes
3 garlic cloves, sliced
1 lemon

Cut off and discard the woody ends of the broccoli rabe. Slice the stems into 1/2-inch long pieces, and the leaves into 1-inch pieces.

Set a large Dutch oven or similar pot over medium heat. When it’s hot, add 2 tablespoons olive oil to coat the bottom of the pot. When the oil shimmers, add the onion and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and beginning to brown, about 15 minutes.

Increase the heat to medium-high, add another tablespoon or so of oil, and the broccoli rabe to the pot, and stir to combine. Season with salt and red pepper flakes. You might need to mound the broccoli rabe to make it fit, or wait for some of it to cook down before you add the rest. Cover the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the broccoli rabe is falling apart tender, about 20 minutes.

Remove the lid and increase the heat to high. Let the broccoli begin to brown, then use a wooden spoon to move it around the pan. Continue cooking until all the broccoli has evenly browned, about 10 minutes, then move it all to the outer edges of the pan. Add a tablespoon of olive oil into the center, then add the garlic into the oil and let it sizzle gently for about 2 seconds, until it starts to release an aroma. Before the garlic begins to brown, stir to combine it with the broccoli. Taste and adjust the salt and red pepper flakes as needed. Remove from heat and squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the broccoli.

Stir, taste, and add more lemon juice if needed. Heap onto a serving platter and shower with coarsely grated cheese. Serve immediately.


Rapini all’Aglio, Olio e Peperoncini

Discovering the distinctive local products of Italy is a unique and intriguing part of any Italiaoutdoors Food and Wine Italy tour, an activity that requires extensive local knowledge. There are countless local varieties of plants that are incorporated into the traditional cuisine and wines of Italy. But due to this country’s unique geography, these particular species have been isolated to a small area, and may only be found and used within a couple of kilometers. More and more local trattorie in Italy are offering “0km menus”, featuring these local specialties, and are a favorite spot to include on our tours.

Spring in Italy

Here’s a quote from one of my favorite Italy cookbooks, Osteria: 1,000 Generous and Simple Recipes from Italy’s Best Local Restaurants, from a recipe for a Foraged Greens and Herbs soup from Lombardia – “Ramps, maidenstears, pellitory-of-the wall nettles, primrose, violets, meadow clary, tender linden leaves, good king Henry, purple salsify, baby lettuce, sorrel, shepard’s purse, wild cardoon shoots, thyme, oregano: these are just some of the wild greens and herbs that can be foraged in the area in and around Bergamo.” (a city in Lombardia, near Lake Como.) Foraging – almost unheard of here – is still practiced commonly in the Italian countryside. Travel 20 km down the road, and this list of foraged plants will be different!

When I return to Italy in a few short weeks, I will find Fiolaro di Creazzo, a local broccoli, at my neighborhood produce vendor. Fiolaro broccoli is unique, as it does not resemble other varieties of broccoli either in form or in taste. It does not form a flower, but instead produces small secondary shoots along the stem of the plant which are called fioi and have given this plant its name. Grown on the hills of Creazzo, just west of Vicenza, this plant flourishes in the rich soil on south facing slopes, where the winter is dry, not too cold, but with brief November frost (-8/10°C) that makes the fiolaro more tasty.

To find many of these greens, you have to travel to Italy. But a few we can find here in the US include the Tuscan or Lacinato kale, in Italian cavolo nero, or black kale. This kale has long, dark green, narrow leaves with a bumpy surface. As with the Fiolaro, the most flavorful have been through at least one frost. In Tuscany it finds it’s way into the favorite Ribollita Toscana soup, or served on a crostini with lots of fresh olive oil.

Rapini or Cime di Rapa or known in the US as Broccoli Rabe, is a member of the cabbage family. It has a 6 to 9 inch stalks with a few broccoli-like clusters, both of which are edible. This green has a distinctive bitter taste, and appears most often in southern Italian cuisines, including Campania (where it is called friarielli) and Puglia, (where it is called cime di rapa).

I have a few articles in the works that call for cooked greens, so I needed to start with a basic recipe. I have many a recipe for spicy sauteed greens from all parts of Italy. But the one fault I have with the vast majority of original Italian recipes is a lack of precise, detailed instructions. Italian assume everyone knows how to cook, so only general guidelines are necessary. The long lost ex-engineer in me can’t just live with this state of affairs.

So I turned to a non-Italian cookbook that is a great resource for those of us who want to know “why” we cook something a certain way: Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking by Samin Nosrat. Books like these, that contained well-tested recipes, clear and detailed instructions, inspire my rewrites of the Italian originals so my readers and our clients can reproduce the wonderful dishes we taste on tour back at home.

Nosrat’s recipe follows – it uses the very same ingredients found in the Italian versions of this recipe, but offers much more complete instructions, including when to season, how to add and Incorporate the garlic without burning it. You can apply this same technique to other greens like kale and mustard greens, with some adjustment on the length of cooking time.

Nosrat serves this with Ricotta Salata cheese (a dry, salted ricotta) which I find only rarely here in the US. Any good quality hard cheese, such as Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano, will work too.

Rapini all’Aglio, Olio e Peperoncini – Spicy Broccoli Rabe

2 bunches (about 2 pounds) broccoli rabe, rinsed
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
Kosher salt
Big pinch hot red pepper flakes
3 garlic cloves, sliced
1 lemon

Cut off and discard the woody ends of the broccoli rabe. Slice the stems into 1/2-inch long pieces, and the leaves into 1-inch pieces.

Set a large Dutch oven or similar pot over medium heat. When it’s hot, add 2 tablespoons olive oil to coat the bottom of the pot. When the oil shimmers, add the onion and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and beginning to brown, about 15 minutes.

Increase the heat to medium-high, add another tablespoon or so of oil, and the broccoli rabe to the pot, and stir to combine. Season with salt and red pepper flakes. You might need to mound the broccoli rabe to make it fit, or wait for some of it to cook down before you add the rest. Cover the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the broccoli rabe is falling apart tender, about 20 minutes.

Remove the lid and increase the heat to high. Let the broccoli begin to brown, then use a wooden spoon to move it around the pan. Continue cooking until all the broccoli has evenly browned, about 10 minutes, then move it all to the outer edges of the pan. Add a tablespoon of olive oil into the center, then add the garlic into the oil and let it sizzle gently for about 2 seconds, until it starts to release an aroma. Before the garlic begins to brown, stir to combine it with the broccoli. Taste and adjust the salt and red pepper flakes as needed. Remove from heat and squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the broccoli.

Stir, taste, and add more lemon juice if needed. Heap onto a serving platter and shower with coarsely grated cheese. Serve immediately.


Rapini all’Aglio, Olio e Peperoncini

Discovering the distinctive local products of Italy is a unique and intriguing part of any Italiaoutdoors Food and Wine Italy tour, an activity that requires extensive local knowledge. There are countless local varieties of plants that are incorporated into the traditional cuisine and wines of Italy. But due to this country’s unique geography, these particular species have been isolated to a small area, and may only be found and used within a couple of kilometers. More and more local trattorie in Italy are offering “0km menus”, featuring these local specialties, and are a favorite spot to include on our tours.

Spring in Italy

Here’s a quote from one of my favorite Italy cookbooks, Osteria: 1,000 Generous and Simple Recipes from Italy’s Best Local Restaurants, from a recipe for a Foraged Greens and Herbs soup from Lombardia – “Ramps, maidenstears, pellitory-of-the wall nettles, primrose, violets, meadow clary, tender linden leaves, good king Henry, purple salsify, baby lettuce, sorrel, shepard’s purse, wild cardoon shoots, thyme, oregano: these are just some of the wild greens and herbs that can be foraged in the area in and around Bergamo.” (a city in Lombardia, near Lake Como.) Foraging – almost unheard of here – is still practiced commonly in the Italian countryside. Travel 20 km down the road, and this list of foraged plants will be different!

When I return to Italy in a few short weeks, I will find Fiolaro di Creazzo, a local broccoli, at my neighborhood produce vendor. Fiolaro broccoli is unique, as it does not resemble other varieties of broccoli either in form or in taste. It does not form a flower, but instead produces small secondary shoots along the stem of the plant which are called fioi and have given this plant its name. Grown on the hills of Creazzo, just west of Vicenza, this plant flourishes in the rich soil on south facing slopes, where the winter is dry, not too cold, but with brief November frost (-8/10°C) that makes the fiolaro more tasty.

To find many of these greens, you have to travel to Italy. But a few we can find here in the US include the Tuscan or Lacinato kale, in Italian cavolo nero, or black kale. This kale has long, dark green, narrow leaves with a bumpy surface. As with the Fiolaro, the most flavorful have been through at least one frost. In Tuscany it finds it’s way into the favorite Ribollita Toscana soup, or served on a crostini with lots of fresh olive oil.

Rapini or Cime di Rapa or known in the US as Broccoli Rabe, is a member of the cabbage family. It has a 6 to 9 inch stalks with a few broccoli-like clusters, both of which are edible. This green has a distinctive bitter taste, and appears most often in southern Italian cuisines, including Campania (where it is called friarielli) and Puglia, (where it is called cime di rapa).

I have a few articles in the works that call for cooked greens, so I needed to start with a basic recipe. I have many a recipe for spicy sauteed greens from all parts of Italy. But the one fault I have with the vast majority of original Italian recipes is a lack of precise, detailed instructions. Italian assume everyone knows how to cook, so only general guidelines are necessary. The long lost ex-engineer in me can’t just live with this state of affairs.

So I turned to a non-Italian cookbook that is a great resource for those of us who want to know “why” we cook something a certain way: Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking by Samin Nosrat. Books like these, that contained well-tested recipes, clear and detailed instructions, inspire my rewrites of the Italian originals so my readers and our clients can reproduce the wonderful dishes we taste on tour back at home.

Nosrat’s recipe follows – it uses the very same ingredients found in the Italian versions of this recipe, but offers much more complete instructions, including when to season, how to add and Incorporate the garlic without burning it. You can apply this same technique to other greens like kale and mustard greens, with some adjustment on the length of cooking time.

Nosrat serves this with Ricotta Salata cheese (a dry, salted ricotta) which I find only rarely here in the US. Any good quality hard cheese, such as Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano, will work too.

Rapini all’Aglio, Olio e Peperoncini – Spicy Broccoli Rabe

2 bunches (about 2 pounds) broccoli rabe, rinsed
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
Kosher salt
Big pinch hot red pepper flakes
3 garlic cloves, sliced
1 lemon

Cut off and discard the woody ends of the broccoli rabe. Slice the stems into 1/2-inch long pieces, and the leaves into 1-inch pieces.

Set a large Dutch oven or similar pot over medium heat. When it’s hot, add 2 tablespoons olive oil to coat the bottom of the pot. When the oil shimmers, add the onion and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and beginning to brown, about 15 minutes.

Increase the heat to medium-high, add another tablespoon or so of oil, and the broccoli rabe to the pot, and stir to combine. Season with salt and red pepper flakes. You might need to mound the broccoli rabe to make it fit, or wait for some of it to cook down before you add the rest. Cover the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the broccoli rabe is falling apart tender, about 20 minutes.

Remove the lid and increase the heat to high. Let the broccoli begin to brown, then use a wooden spoon to move it around the pan. Continue cooking until all the broccoli has evenly browned, about 10 minutes, then move it all to the outer edges of the pan. Add a tablespoon of olive oil into the center, then add the garlic into the oil and let it sizzle gently for about 2 seconds, until it starts to release an aroma. Before the garlic begins to brown, stir to combine it with the broccoli. Taste and adjust the salt and red pepper flakes as needed. Remove from heat and squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the broccoli.

Stir, taste, and add more lemon juice if needed. Heap onto a serving platter and shower with coarsely grated cheese. Serve immediately.


Rapini all’Aglio, Olio e Peperoncini

Discovering the distinctive local products of Italy is a unique and intriguing part of any Italiaoutdoors Food and Wine Italy tour, an activity that requires extensive local knowledge. There are countless local varieties of plants that are incorporated into the traditional cuisine and wines of Italy. But due to this country’s unique geography, these particular species have been isolated to a small area, and may only be found and used within a couple of kilometers. More and more local trattorie in Italy are offering “0km menus”, featuring these local specialties, and are a favorite spot to include on our tours.

Spring in Italy

Here’s a quote from one of my favorite Italy cookbooks, Osteria: 1,000 Generous and Simple Recipes from Italy’s Best Local Restaurants, from a recipe for a Foraged Greens and Herbs soup from Lombardia – “Ramps, maidenstears, pellitory-of-the wall nettles, primrose, violets, meadow clary, tender linden leaves, good king Henry, purple salsify, baby lettuce, sorrel, shepard’s purse, wild cardoon shoots, thyme, oregano: these are just some of the wild greens and herbs that can be foraged in the area in and around Bergamo.” (a city in Lombardia, near Lake Como.) Foraging – almost unheard of here – is still practiced commonly in the Italian countryside. Travel 20 km down the road, and this list of foraged plants will be different!

When I return to Italy in a few short weeks, I will find Fiolaro di Creazzo, a local broccoli, at my neighborhood produce vendor. Fiolaro broccoli is unique, as it does not resemble other varieties of broccoli either in form or in taste. It does not form a flower, but instead produces small secondary shoots along the stem of the plant which are called fioi and have given this plant its name. Grown on the hills of Creazzo, just west of Vicenza, this plant flourishes in the rich soil on south facing slopes, where the winter is dry, not too cold, but with brief November frost (-8/10°C) that makes the fiolaro more tasty.

To find many of these greens, you have to travel to Italy. But a few we can find here in the US include the Tuscan or Lacinato kale, in Italian cavolo nero, or black kale. This kale has long, dark green, narrow leaves with a bumpy surface. As with the Fiolaro, the most flavorful have been through at least one frost. In Tuscany it finds it’s way into the favorite Ribollita Toscana soup, or served on a crostini with lots of fresh olive oil.

Rapini or Cime di Rapa or known in the US as Broccoli Rabe, is a member of the cabbage family. It has a 6 to 9 inch stalks with a few broccoli-like clusters, both of which are edible. This green has a distinctive bitter taste, and appears most often in southern Italian cuisines, including Campania (where it is called friarielli) and Puglia, (where it is called cime di rapa).

I have a few articles in the works that call for cooked greens, so I needed to start with a basic recipe. I have many a recipe for spicy sauteed greens from all parts of Italy. But the one fault I have with the vast majority of original Italian recipes is a lack of precise, detailed instructions. Italian assume everyone knows how to cook, so only general guidelines are necessary. The long lost ex-engineer in me can’t just live with this state of affairs.

So I turned to a non-Italian cookbook that is a great resource for those of us who want to know “why” we cook something a certain way: Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking by Samin Nosrat. Books like these, that contained well-tested recipes, clear and detailed instructions, inspire my rewrites of the Italian originals so my readers and our clients can reproduce the wonderful dishes we taste on tour back at home.

Nosrat’s recipe follows – it uses the very same ingredients found in the Italian versions of this recipe, but offers much more complete instructions, including when to season, how to add and Incorporate the garlic without burning it. You can apply this same technique to other greens like kale and mustard greens, with some adjustment on the length of cooking time.

Nosrat serves this with Ricotta Salata cheese (a dry, salted ricotta) which I find only rarely here in the US. Any good quality hard cheese, such as Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano, will work too.

Rapini all’Aglio, Olio e Peperoncini – Spicy Broccoli Rabe

2 bunches (about 2 pounds) broccoli rabe, rinsed
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
Kosher salt
Big pinch hot red pepper flakes
3 garlic cloves, sliced
1 lemon

Cut off and discard the woody ends of the broccoli rabe. Slice the stems into 1/2-inch long pieces, and the leaves into 1-inch pieces.

Set a large Dutch oven or similar pot over medium heat. When it’s hot, add 2 tablespoons olive oil to coat the bottom of the pot. When the oil shimmers, add the onion and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and beginning to brown, about 15 minutes.

Increase the heat to medium-high, add another tablespoon or so of oil, and the broccoli rabe to the pot, and stir to combine. Season with salt and red pepper flakes. You might need to mound the broccoli rabe to make it fit, or wait for some of it to cook down before you add the rest. Cover the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the broccoli rabe is falling apart tender, about 20 minutes.

Remove the lid and increase the heat to high. Let the broccoli begin to brown, then use a wooden spoon to move it around the pan. Continue cooking until all the broccoli has evenly browned, about 10 minutes, then move it all to the outer edges of the pan. Add a tablespoon of olive oil into the center, then add the garlic into the oil and let it sizzle gently for about 2 seconds, until it starts to release an aroma. Before the garlic begins to brown, stir to combine it with the broccoli. Taste and adjust the salt and red pepper flakes as needed. Remove from heat and squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the broccoli.

Stir, taste, and add more lemon juice if needed. Heap onto a serving platter and shower with coarsely grated cheese. Serve immediately.


Watch the video: 581 - Risotto agli asparagi selvatici..per momenti estatici! primo piatto genuino facile e veloce (July 2022).


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