Urban Acres yet again challenges the culinary taste of its members. The co-op style shares will be full of the bitter tasting Rapini Greens. The exciting part of being a member of a co-op style share program is learning about produce we usually wouldn’t purchase. And even though these lovely greens are sharp while crisp, they are deliciously sweet when blanched.
Rapini Greens are descendants of wild mustard plants and have been a favorite of Italian cooks for centuries. But why are people so fascinated with this “biting” green? First of, it’s full of vitamins and cancer fighting compounds; secondly, when prepared right, it will be a taste you’ll want to re-visit over and over again.
The Basics ~ blanching
As mentioned earlier, you need to blanch this green to achieve its sweet tasting flavor.
1. Bring a pot of water to a boil.
2. Add enough salt so it tastes as salty as the ocean.
3. Meanwhile rinse the Rapini.
4. Put the Rapini in the boiling water for about 2-minutes.
5. Lift out and rinse under cold running water.
6. Drain and squeeze the water out of the Rapini.
The Recipe ~ by Viola Buitoni
I learned about Viola while living in Washington, DC in the 1990s. I was looking for dishes that resembled my mother’s cooking, from my partially Italian ancestry, when I stumbled upon Viola’s small, Italian fine foods shop on Madison Ave. in New York City. Her dishes were mouth watering, and I’m thrilled to share Viola’s recipe with you. ~ Barbara Bailey
Sautéed Rapini With Potatoes (Rapi e Patate)
2 Yukon Gold potatoes, unpeeled
1 bunch rapini, about 1½ pounds
1 tablespoon sea salt
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
6 large cloves garlic, left whole
1. In a saucepan, combine the potatoes with enough cold water to cover and bring to a boil. Cook over medium heat until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. They should be fully tender but not falling apart when cooked. When cool enough to handle, peel the skin from the potatoes, cut them lengthwise into quarters, and then cut crosswise into medium-thin slices. Set aside and let them cool.
2. Detach the stems from the tops of the vegetable. Using a small, sharp knife, peel the skin from the thicker lower stalks of the rapini (most of the bottom portion of the stalk) and cut them crosswise into approximate 2-inch lengths.
3. Blanch the greens – see above. Reserve a little of the cooking liquid and set it aside separately.
4. In a nonstick skillet large enough to accommodate the potatoes and the greens, warm the olive oil over low heat and add the garlic. Sauté over medium heat until the garlic is nicely softened but not colored, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a side dish. Raise the heat to medium-high and add the cooked potatoes. Sauté until they are golden and crispy all over, about 12 minutes, then transfer to another side dish. Warm the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-low heat, return the rapini and the garlic cloves to the pan. Sauté until the greens are nicely coated with the olive oil and the garlic and heated through, about 3 minutes; if they appear a little dry, add a little of the reserved cooking water as needed. Return the potatoes to the skillet and toss all together. Adjust for seasoning and serve immediately.
This mouth watering dish will definitely bring a new appreciation for this vegetable. Enjoy!