Have you had the pleasure of eating friarielli? This bitter but tasty Italian leafy green goes by many names so it can be hard to find outside of Italy.
The Romans call it broccoletti due to its resemblance to broccoli. In Naples, locals call it friarielli while further south in the region of Puglia people refer to it as cime di rapa. In the United States it is known as broccoli rabe.
Part of the mustard family, friarielli is well adapted to both winter and summer growing seasons for spring and fall harvests, and its bitter flavor is complemented by nutty notes. Its jagged leaves and stalks are great sources of vitamins A, C, and K, as well as iron, folate, and manganese.
As with most cruciferous vegetables, friarielli is exceptionally flavourful when sautéed with garlic and olive oil. It is wonderful paired with pasta and is a nice flavour contrast to meats and seafood.
If you can't find friarielli in your local markets opt for arugula and turnip greens which make suitable substitutes.
How to prep friarielli
Some cooks like to blanch friarielli before mixing it with other ingredients because the stems are a bit tough.
On the other hand, chef Laura Vitale recommends getting rid of the tough stems and using only the leaves and tender parts. Take a look at her great tips for prepping broccoli rabe:
Step 1: Clean the broccoli rabe, take the bottom stem off and strip the leaves. Remove the tough stalk, but leave part of the stem intact.
Step 2: Sauté three cloves of crushed garlic in olive oil on medium-high heat. Add hot pepper flakes to taste.
Step 3: Add the clean, trimmed broccoli rabe to the pan and place a lid on it. Leave for one minute to wilt.
Step 4: Add a cup of water and season with salt and pepper, cover and leave for 7-8 minutes.
Recipes with friarielli, cime di rapa & co.
Here are some easy recipe ideas for using friarielli in your kitchen:
Orecchiette with cime di rapa
This legendary dish from the southern Italian region of Puglia (located in the heel of Italy) pairs cime di rapa with orecchiette pasta.
The steps are as follows:
Boil the orecchiette in salted water until cooked, according to the packaging.
Sauté one seeded and diced chilli, halved garlic cloves, anchovies, and the friarielli until the greens are quite tender, about 20 minutes.
Discard garlic, combine the greens mixture with the pasta, add parmesan and olive oil, and serve.
Friarielli can be grown locally year-round, and thus can be added fresh to many recipes for flavour and texture. It is excellent as a complement to pasta dishes like this spaghetti Napoli, or as a side to this tajarin with white truffle favourite. Consult the previous recipes in this article for cook times and cooking methods.
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