Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Spigariello? It's not an opera!

With the current proliferation of local farmer's markets across the country comes the opportunity to discover unusual varieties of produce which one would not find in commercial markets. A recent revelation is this lovely Spigariello, an heirloom Italian kale in the brassica family. Its full name as listed in seed catalogues is "Cavolo Broccolo Spigariello Foglia Riccia".

Like Lacinato kale (above), Spigariello is tender and uniquely flavorful, with small dark blue-green leaves. It can be sauteed, steamed, eaten raw in salad and smoothies or added to soups and stews. Both varieties are subtle in taste with no hint of bitterness and are more delicate than the common curly kale which has become popular of late.

There is nothing mysterious or difficult about preparing leafy greens. Lightly sauteing them in olive oil creates a flavorful nutritious dish in minutes. The only tools needed are a knife, a cutting board and a skillet.

How to saute a dark leafy green vegetable in olive oil:

Rinse the greens and shake off or blot excess water. If the leaves have thick central stems, cut them away from the leaves. Chop the stems into small pieces. Then stack the leaves and slice; thin slices will cook more quickly than thick. Remember that the volume of the greens will reduce greatly during cooking, so judge the quantity you begin with accordingly.

Heat some olive oil in a heavy skillet-  just enough to cover the surface of the pan. Add the chopped stems first, since they are denser and need a little more cooking time. After a minute or two, add the leaves and continue to saute over a medium flame, stirring occasionally until just tender; this should take only three or four minutes. Taste the greens. If they are not tender enough, continue cooking another minute or so. Add a bit more olive oil if the greens are sticking to the pan.

Serve sauteed greens immediately in a preheated bowl, sprinkled with a little sea salt to taste and perhaps some freshly ground black pepper. 

Cavolo Broccolo Spigariello Foglia Riccia