Sunday, April 15, 2012

Cima di Rape, Simple with Orecchiette and Polenta

I will get to cima di rape in a minute, but before I’d like to share a thought about cooking is simple and a recipe is often there just for inspiration or guideline. 

Cima di rape makes a variety of great dishes

I got a DVD with Nigel Slater’s Simple Suppers from a foodie friend for Christmas. I don’t know if it is the warm yellow light in his kitchen, the sunlight in his garden when he goes around and picks the vegetables or herbs that grow in the pots or what but it is an absolute beauty of a program. It is of course his very nice English too pronouncing all the words perfectly without eating the endings. The greatest thing is that there are no real recipes with grams, decilitres or millilitres to mess about. It is really simple and anyone can adjust the recipe to their taste with more of this or less of that.

My first encounter with Nigel Slater was when years ago I had ordered some books on amazon and when the order arrived instead of what I had ordered I found a recipe book with lots of recipes and no photos by some chap called Nigel Slater. I had never heard of him then. Well, a lot of meals have been cooked and eaten since and Nigel Slater has become a famous cookbook author. I am eyeing his “Tender” in the bookshop now. If not before, then perhaps for Christmas…

Cima di rape or broccoli rabe at the market

For a few weeks I have noticed an interesting green vegetable at the farmers market. It has small broccoli like flowery heads between the deep green leaves. The appetite for the rich leafy greens in the spring time is itching my winter bored stomach and seeing all sorts of new edible greens appear on the counters is like salt and pepper to any meal. Such joy!
So I grabbed a bunch of cima di rape that in English might also be known as broccoli rape, broccoli raab or rapini, in German Stängelkohl and is popular in Southern Italy. It is grown in Switzerland to an extent and even the common supermarket is selling it, strane that I had not noticed it before.

Here are two simple recipes for two, both done in 30 minutes. Freshly cooked meals and the recipes here are really just for inspiration. Whilst most savoury recipes can be experimented with, the exceptions are cake or more complicated dessert recipes where it is useful to follow the number of eggs or grams of baking powder.

Orecchiette with cima di rape and pancetta

200g oricchietti pasta
Olive oil
500g cima di rape, chopped into 1-2 cm pieces
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1-2 peperoncini, thinly sliced
(Lemon juice of a quarter of a lemon, optional)
Salt and pepper
100g pancetta

Bring enough water to boil, add salt into the pasta water and cook the pasta till al dente.
Heat some olive oil, sauté the cima di rape with some garlic and peperoncini for ca 15 minutes until the stem bits have softened. Add the lemon juice if you chose to use it.
Add the pancetta slices and mix with the leaves. Mix the pasta with the vegetables and drizzle a little good olive oil on top. 

Orecchiette pasta with cima di rape and pancetta

Polenta with cima di rape and champignons

6 dl water + 1 cube bouillon or fresh chicken stock
125g polenta
10g butter
2 tablespoons grated parmesan

0.5 dl olive oil
500g broccoli rape, cut into 1-2 cm long pieces
250g button champignons, halved or quartered if necessary
1 peperoncino, thinly sliced
1 clove of garlic or a small bunch of ramsons (green wild garlic), sliced
Salt and black pepper

Bring the water to boil with the bouillon cube and add the polenta. Turn down the heat and cook under low heat stirring often for ca 20-30 minutes until the polenta is al dente soft. At the end add the butter and parmesan and stir well to create a creamy consistency.

In the mean time in another big pan heat the oil and add the sliced garlic and peperoncinio and broccoli rape. Cook at high heat for a few minutes. Add the champignons and mix with the broccoli rape. Turn the heat to medium and continue cooking for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Serve the vegetables on the polenta, hot.

Sautéed broccoli rabe with champignons on polenta bed