Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe & Garlic Toasted Bread Crumbs (Orecchiette con Cime di Rapa)

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Broccoli rabe, or rapini, is a bitter green that comes into season in autumn. It is a member of the turnip family and you will find it at selected greengrocers in bundles of large leaves with broccoli-like flower heads opening into small yellow flowers.   It’s earthy and rustic – a peasant-style Puglia dish to get you through the day.  In Puglia the main meal is lunch at around 1:30. Stores close at 1.  After lunch  they take a nap (penneca) since nothing is open anyway again until 6pm.  Carmen who does my nails at her home always asks what i made for lunch and we talk about food. She gave me her way of doing this classic Puglia dish and went home and made it as it sounded so good!

Ingredients

  • 400g cime di rapa or 1 pound
  • 200g pasta of your choice (the tradition is orecchiette)  I go veggie heavy and pasta light and make up for it all with the fresh pressed olive oil I helped produce.
  • Olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • half cup fresh bread crumbs – at the bread counter in Italy (i make crumbs out of stale bread and keep in freezer)
  • 4 anchovies (optional but they make the flavor jump!)
  • Pinch dried chilli flakes or preferably a whole dry chili broken in half and tossed in
  • Parmesan, grated, to serve
  • Salt & pepper

Method

  1. Put a large pan of salted water on to boil. Wash the Cime di Rapa well, slice the lower part of the stalks into 2-3 cm pieces, keep the leafy tops whole. Drop the greens into the water.  You will add the pasta to the same pot when the Cime is almost done and a knife slices easily through it
  2. Meanwhile gently heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan (must be big enough for the finished dish) and slowly cook the garlic until fragrant but not burning.  Add the bread crumbs and dried chilli, cook gently for 2 minutes until the crumbs are toasted and golden. Cut the heat and save for later
  3. Drain the pasta and greens together when the pasta is still al dente (it will keep cooking as you finish) keeping a cup of the water for later in case it’s too dry.  Dump the drained mixture into the  bread crumb pan, add the anchovies if using and stir it all together fast while on medium heat adding some of the pasta water if needed and drizzle of good olive oil. Serve piled into shallow bowls and finish with plenty of grated Parmesan and more good olive oil.  I love fresh cracked black pepper on everything but in Italy you don’t put chilli peppers and black pepper together ever! But in the end I do what I want and like.

Authentic Italian Eggplant Parmesan Melanzane di Parmigiana

eggplant-parmesan
the layering- add grated parmesan to this
my eggplant parm pic
not yet cooked- take basil off and shred over finished dish

Eggplant – about 3 pounds sliced lengthwise in ¼ inch slices

8 oz fresh mozzarella ripped into 1 inch pieces

1 cup flour

2 cups extra virgin olive oil – EVOO – can use virgin oil

Parmigiano Reggiano – 1 cup freshly grated

Tomato sauce – recipe below

Salt sliced eggplant and leave with a weight on top for an hour in a colander over sink to rid of excess moisture. Then wipe off salt and pat well with paper towels.  (You can skip this step if you use small Japanese eggplants or eggplants that don’t exude bitter juices)
Flour them lightly then fry in ½ inch hot EVOO (extra virgin olive oil- which has a higher smoke point than virgin olive oil). 2 minutes per side placing on paper towels when done. Use paper towel to absorb excess oil – (or just drink that liquid gold haha ). Make sure not to crowd eggplant when frying as it lowers the oil temp. Insure oil is hot but not smoking between batches.

Spread a thin layer of tomato sauce (Recipe below) on bottom of 8x9ish baking dish, layer fried eggplant slices with more tomato sauce, grated REAL Parmigiano cheese then a good soft mozzarella ripped in small pieces. Repeat layers until all eggplant is used. Finish with mozzarella on final layer. It won’t be covered with sauce or cheese but it all melds together in the oven. Bake at 400° for 20 – 30 minutes or until bubbling- let rest 10 minutes before serving

Tomato sauce recipe:

1 onion chopped

2 cloves garlic – chopped

28 oz can tomatoes: Stateside I use Muir Glen or Hunts , in Italy it’s Mutti or Pommi

Fresh basil

Chili pepper– optional if you like a kick – whole in pieces or flakes

Sauté onion and garlic in EVOO until onion is soft with optional Chili pepper, add tomatos and cook about 10 min. Blend all with an immersion blender. Turn off heat and add fresh basil ripped into pieces. Season with salt and pepper.

All About Artichokes- even though the season is ending now…but I haven’t eaten one this year!

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Roman artichokes in extra virgin olive oil, fresh mint, garlic. My favorite way to prepare them!
artichoke all giuda
Roman Artichoke Jewish style Carciofi alla Giuda

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artichokes
trimmed artichokes in the Italian market
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My First Artichoke Garden in Chattanooga TN. Looks like I’m the only one around here growing artichokes! I have to wait 120 days! I hope it works

VIDEO: How to trim artichokes Roman style

Am I crazy to try artichokes since 100% of commercially grown come from California where I am from?

If they grew in louisiana in the 1800’s I would think they can grow here...

1500s – In the 16th century, Catherine de Medici (1519-1589), married to King Henry II (1519-1559), of France at the age of 14, is credited with making artichokes famous. She is said to have introduced them to France when she married King Henry II in the mid 16th century. She was quoted as sayig, “If one of us had eaten artichokes, we would have been pointed out on the street. Today young women are more forward than pages at the court.”
1600s – Martha Washington’s Booke of Cookery contains a 17th-century recipe entitled “To Make Hartichoak Pie.”
1800s – French immigrants brought artichokes to the United States in 1806 when they settled in the Louisiana Territory. But though the first commercial artichoke fields were developed in Louisiana, by 1940 they had mysteriously disappeared. They were later established in Louisiana by French colonists and in California in the Monterey area by the Spaniards during the later 1800s.

Johann Wolfgang Goethe (1749-1832), poet and dramatist, shunned the artichoke. In his book Travels Through Italy, Goethe says, “the peasants eat thistles,” a practice he could never adopt.

20th century – In 1922 Andrew Molera, a landowner in the Salinas Valley of Monterey County, California, just south of San Francisco, decided to lease his land previously dedicated to the growing of sugar beets to Italian farmers that he encouraged to try growing the “new” vegetable. His reasons were economic as artichokes were fetching high prices and farmers could pay Molera triple what the sugar company did for the same land.

By the early 20th century, Fannie Farmer noted in her ninth edition of her cookbook that California artichokes were selling in Boston for 30 to 40 cents each.

In the 1920s, Ciro Terranova “Whitey” (1889-1938), a member of the mafia and known as the “Artichoke King,” began his monopoly of the artichoke market by purchasing all the produce shipped to New York from California at $6 a crate. He created a produce company and resold the artichokes at 30 to 40 percent profit. Not only did he terrorize distributors and produce merchants, he even launched an attack on the artichoke fields from Montara to Pescadero, hacking down the plants with machetes in the dead of night. These “artichoke wars” led the Mayor or New York, Fiorello La Guardia, to declare “the sale, display, and possession” of artichokes in New York illegal. Mayor La Guardia publicly admitted that he himself loved the vegetable and after only one week he lifted the ban.

Did You Know?

Nearly one hundred percent of all artichokes grown commercially in the United States are grown in California.

In the 16th century, eating an artichoke was reserved only for men. Women were denied the pleasure because the artichoke was considered an aphrodisiac and was thought to enhance sexual power.

Artichokes are one of the oldest foods know to humans.

Marilyn Monroe was the first official California Artichoke Queen in 1949.
How To Purchase Artichokes:

One medium to large artichoke will yield approximately 2 ounces of edible flesh.

If the artichoke feels heavy for its size and squeaks when squeezed, you have found a fresh artichoke.

Select globes that are deep green, with a tight leaf formation, and those that feel heavy for their size. A good test of freshness is to press the leaves against each other which should produce a squeaking sound. Browning of the tips can indicate age, but can also indicate frost damage.

Fall and winter artichokes may be darker or bronze-tipped or have a whitish, blistered appearance due to exposure to light frost. This is called “winter-kissed.” Look for tender green on the inside of petals. Many consider these frosted artichokes to be the most tender with intense flavor. Avoid artichokes which are wilting, drying or have mold.

How To Store Artichokes:

To store fresh artichokes at home, sprinkle them with a little water and refrigerate in an airtight plastic bag. Do no wash before storing. They should last a week when stored properly.

RECIPES
Roman Artichokes in Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Herbs  –  Can Make Ahead

Ingredients

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons mint, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
4 artichokes with stems, trimmed – see video

Method:
In a bowl, combine parsley, mint, garlic, and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
Rub artichoke hearts inside and out with herb mixture. Place them stem-side up in a medium pot. Add remaining 1/4 cup olive oil and enough water to come halfway up the sides of the artichoke hearts.
Place pot on the stove over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover pot, and simmer until artichokes are tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and add remaining herbs. Cool completely in the cooking liquid.
Divide artichoke hearts onto four plates, and serve at room temperature with some of the liquid spooned over the top.

Carciofi alla Giuda
Roman Fried artichokes

Ingredients:

4 whole artichokes
3 ½ cups extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
1 lemon

Method:

Remove the hard leaves from the artichokes, cut stalk leaving about 1,2 inches of it.
With a very sharp small knife, shape the artichoke from top to bottom turning it, so as to remove only the hard part of the leaves. Soak the artichoke in water with the juice of one lemon and repeat the operation for each single artichoke.

Meanwhile, in a pan heat up plenty of oil.

Drain the artichokes, dry them and press them lengthwise on the table to open the leaves. Each operation must be repeated for each single artichoke.
Season the inside of the artichokes with salt and pepper. Then dip the artichokes into the boiling oil with the stalk up, cook per about 10 minutes, then turn them upside down and cook on the other side, for the same time.
Drain them on absorbent paper and serve hot.

Pasta with broccoli, anchovy, garlic and hot pepper – my version of orecchiette con cime di rapa

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After drooling over Italian recipes of orecchiette and cime di rapa (broccoli rabe) I was craving it and wanted to have it today! So I made do with what I can get here which is regular broccoli and fusilli pasta. I am not going to spend 4 dollars on a tiny bunch of broccoli rabe of which I would need 4! I even used Manchego cheese instead of Parmigiano and it was great!

Fusilli with broccoli,anchovy, garlic, hot pepper and evoo (extra virgin olive oil)

1 lb broccoli crowns
2-4 anchovies or to taste
2 garlic cloves squashed
1 dried hot pepper (stem cut off) or a pinch of red pepper flakes
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
half pound fusilli pasta
1/2 cup grated Manchego cheese

boil broccoli in salted water for about 4 -5 minutes until tender.
Remove with a slotted spoon and cook the pasta in the same water until very al dente- 2 minutes less than package says usually. It will continue to cook and It also gets cooked more in the skillet.
in a skillet heat the evoo until hot, add the whole garlic, anchovies and hot pepper.
stir and squish the anchovies until they melt into the sauce.
Add the cooked broccoli and stir until well combined.
Taste for saltiness and adjust if needed- if anchovies were used you won’t need salt.
Add the cooked pasta and stir, adding pasta water if it dries up.
alternate adding the grated cheese with pasta water until you have a nice creamy sauce.
serve immediately with more cheese if desired
buon appetito!