On Sundays, I normally go to the market at the southern station in Brussels. ( Zuid Station ) in Dutch. This is a multicultural market. There are a lot of Italians, Moroccan, Turkish & Belgian vendors.
I always go to the same Italian vegetable & fruit vendor. He has excellent foodies goodies.
I was looking for Cime di rapa. Cime di rapa is a green winter vegetable, essentially from Italy. You can eat it’s leaves, the larger & the more delicate smaller ones. It’s taste is bitter & a bit peppery. It also has little stems with sprouting heads, like sprouting broccoli.
Cime di rapa is also known as broccoletti di rapa or rapini.
You can serve cime di rapa as you would spinach.
Recipe: For 2 persons, with seconds
800 gr fresh cime di rapa, the thick stalks removed, the dirty leaves cut off , well washed & spun dry
350 gr fusilli pasta
200 gr pancetta or other bacon, thinly sliced
the best olive oil
2 fat garlic cloves, peeled & finely chopped
1 x 400 gr tin of peeled plum tomatoes
Maldon sea salt
grinned black pepper
zest of 1 washed lemon
fresh flat leaf parsley, washed, dried on kitchen paper & finely chopped
about 100 gr of Parmesan cheese, grated
1. Take a large non stick pan. Heat up on high.
2. When the pan is searing hot, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the chopped garlic & the pancetta. Stir well. Fry until lightly browned.
3. Now, turn the heat down on medium. Add the tin of tomatoes, their juices & a little salt. Cook for about 15 to 20 minutes. Stir often. When ready, taste & season according to your taste.
4. In the meantime, you prepare the cime di rapa. Now, roughly chop the leaves with their stems & the sprouts.
5. Heat a large cooking pot on a high heat. Fill with hot water & bring to the boil. When boiling, add the pasta & a bit of olive oil. Boil until al dente. Drain. Keep warm.
6. At the same time, take a large cooking pot & fill with a bit of boiling water. Place the cut up cime di rapa & the cut up sprouts into the hot steam. Place the lid on & steam until al dente & tender. This will take about 5 to 8 minutes. Drain the remaing water & add the grated lemon zest, the cut up parsley & plenty of olive oil. Season with sea salt & a few grinds of black pepper. Taste.
7. Now, take the pasta pot & add the tomato sauce. Mix to combine. Taste again.
8. Now, take your plates & plate up! Serve the pasta in the sauce & besides that the green vegetable mix. Enjoy it like that or with some freshly grated Parmesan cheese over the top!
The Parmesan cheese takes a bit the bitter taste away!