Cima di Rapa: A dish with spring greens
The first spring greens
While the birds chirp louder every day and the tulips push their leaves out towards the sun, there is still plenty of snow in the mountains. On Friday we decided we'd go out for breakfast on Saturday. But we weren't going to head to a café in town, we were taking a train ride into central Switzerland and having breakfast on top of a mountain. Our destination was the Stockhorn. It's something we like to do any time of the year. It's fun to enjoy breakfast with an amazing view. It was sunny, but hazy and we murmured "the view could be better". We sat in the sun and ate a delicious breakfast while looking down over the mountains. I definitely had too much to eat, especially of the homemade brioche, the best I have ever had before.
Today it was still sunny and mild, and we spent the day in our garden getting everything ready for Spring. We pruned the fruit trees and trimmed the bushes. For lunch I made a dish with cima di rapa, my favorite Spring greens.
Around mid-February I tire of potatoes, carrots and other root vegetables and crave fresher things. That is when cima di rapa arrives in the stores. When looking for the correct English translation, I laughed to find out that this is actually a weed!
Last Sunday I met my Italian friend and while we soaked in the thermal baths in Zürich, we talked about one of our favorite subjects- food. She had just returned from a visit to her parents in southern Italy and she told me about her mother's artichokes and how good they were. We somehow started talking about cima di rapa and she wanted to know how I prepare them. I told her I usually just sautée them in a little olive oil and garlic. Sometimes I add a little balsamic vinegar or capers. She nodded and then told me how it is prepared in Italy.
I'm glad I wasn't too far off with my version. In Italy, cima di rapa is first cooked in boiling water until al dente. Then it is taken out of the water and orecchiette pasta is cooked in the water used for cooking the cima di rapa. This way the pasta soaks up some of the flavor. While the pasta is cooking, a sauce is made out of olive oil and anchovies and the cima di rapa is reheated in this. Then it is served with the pasta and grated pecorino.
Ahh- what a delicious weed this is and a perfect dish to welcome Spring!
And what was dessert? We munched on Donna Hay's apple cinnamon cakes. I had a bunch of apples needing to be used up, and I wanted to try the bundt muffin pan my sister gave me for my birthday. I misread the recipe and added 1 Tbs of cinnamon to the batter and only 90 g sugar. But they were perfect. Not too sweet and very cinnamon-y . I'd definitely make them again just like that!
Pasta with Cima di Rapa
- 400g cima di rapa (you could use sprouting broccoli or other greens), wilted and yellow leaves removed and stems cut in half
- 250 pasta shapes
- 3-4 Tbs olive oil
- 45 g anchovies
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- pecorino, grated
Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta until al dente. While the pasta is cooking, heat 1 Tbs olive oil in a skillet and lightly brown the garlic. Add the greens and a splash of water, cooking until just tender. Remove the greens. In the same skillet, add 2-3 Tbs olive oil and the anchovies. Warm the olive oil and mash the anchovies until a sauce is made. Be sure not to boil the oilve oil; you don't want to fry the fish. Add the greens and toss to coat, reheating. Drain the pasta and serve with the greens and freshly grated pecorino.