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Aunt Menina’s Leaves & Potatoes (Foglie e Patate)

In Sides, Vegetables On February 26, 2012 0 Comments

While living in Avellino, Italy, my Aunt Menina sometimes came to spend the day with us. These visits stand out because Menina was great at creating exquisite dishes from my Nonna’s vegetable garden. And she would introduce us to recipes from her husband’s village, Pietrastornina (that’s a mouthful, ain’t it?).

Today, Menina and Antonio Urciuolo serve a fav of mine, Foglie e Patate (Italian for “Leaves and Potatoes) at their restaurant, La Locandina (located in Pietrastornina).

Although my recipe is delicious, whenever I have this vegetarian dish at La Locandina, it’s as though I’m tasting it for the first time. The main ingredients of this recipe are rapini (the leaves) and potatoes.

Make it – I’m sure you’ll love it as much as I do!

Prep time: 30 to 35 minutes
Serves: 4 to 6

2 pounds Russet potatoes (about 3 large potatoes)
1/3 cup fine quality extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, peeled & sliced
1 bunch rapini, washed, drained and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 teaspoon salt
Dash ground black pepper & nutmeg, to taste

1. Place potatoes in a 5 or 6-quart saucepot and cover them with cold water. Cover and bring to a boil.

2. Cook potatoes on medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes or until fork-tender.

3. Drain the potatoes and set aside to cool.

4. Meanwhile, in a 10 to 12-inch skillet, heat the olive oil.

5. Add the garlic cloves and fry on medium heat until the cloves are golden.

6. Add rapini to the oil and garlic. Cook rapini on medium-high heat 5 to 7 minutes, occasionally tossing with thongs, until crunchy-tender.

7. Stir in the salt and set skillet with rapini aside.

8. Peel the cooled potatoes and mash them in a large bowl; set aside.

9. Return the skillet with rapini to a burner set on medium heat. Heat the rapini until they are hot.

10. Stir the mashed potatoes into the rapini. Stir and cook until Leaves and Potatoes are warmed through. Season with a dash of black pepper & nutmeg.

Serve in 4 bowls as a vegetarian meal or as 6 side dishes to chicken, fish or meat.

Wine pairing suggestion: Pinot Noir or Cabernet Sauvignon (reds).

Text & Photographs ©2012 Nancy DeLucia Real

Sautéed Rapini (Rapini Saltati)

In Vegetables On May 26, 2011 1 Comment

Have you ever tasted steamed or boiled rapini and found its taste slightly bitter? Make this leafy vegetable as we Southern Italians do and I’m sure you’ll love it.

Italians know that rapini must be sautéed with garlic and olive oil in order to tone down its pungent flavor. Here’s my family’s special recipe. Add some fresh, crusty bread to your dining experience and let me know what you think.

Buon Appetito!

Prep time: 10 to 12 minutes
Serves: 4 to 6 (as a side dish)

1 bunch fresh rapini (also known as broccoli rabe or rape)
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
½ cup chicken broth (or water for vegan recipe)
½ to ¾ teaspoon salt

1. With a knife, remove and discard one inch from bottom tips of rapini. Cut the remaining rapini stalk lengths into thirds. Wash and spin dry the rapini twice; set aside.

2. In a 6 or 8-quart saucepot on a stove burner set on high, heat the oil with the garlic slices. When the garlic starts sizzling, stir it with a wooden spoon. Sauté the garlic about 1 minute or until it turns golden.

3. Immediately transfer the saucepot with the garlic and oil to a cold burner and let cool about 2 minutes. Add the washed and spun rapini to the garlic and oil. Cover the saucepot, return it to the hot burner set on high heat and sautée the rapini 1 to 2 minutes, turning it over with tongs.

4. Set heat on medium high and add ½ cup of water or broth. Cook, uncovered, for an additional minute. Stir in the salt.

Serve rapini as a side dish to meats, fish, chicken or turkey. Alternatively, simply enjoy the rapini with fresh bread (be sure to soak the bread in the rapini broth).

Text & Photograph ©2011 Nancy DeLucia Real

A Side of Carrots & Green Beans

In Vegetables On February 16, 2011 2 Comments

It’s February and we should start thinking about summer – the sun, the beach and – wait a minute – the bathing suits, too? Whether we’re happy with last year’s G-string size or not, now is definitely a good time to stop eating and get moving.

Accordingly, I brainwashed myself into believing that sweets can be replaced by salads and vegetables. One of my fav’s is a carrot and green bean dish that I grew up with in Italy. All you need for this is a little salt, pepper, garlic and extra virgin olive oil to boost the natural sweetness of these two veggies.

Should I get caught in a restaurant in the next few weeks, rest assured that you’ll hear me ask my server for fish or chicken, “a side of carrots, green beans – and bring the olive oil, please”.

Prep time: 20 to 25 minutes
Serves: 4

1/2 pound fresh green beans, tips discarded
3 large carrots, peeled and julienned
Salt and black pepper, to taste
1 clove garlic, crushed
4 to 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Balsamic Cream*, for drizzling (optional)

1. Place green beans in a 2-quart saucepot; cover with cold water and bring to a boil.

2. Cook 2 minutes or until beans are crunchy-tender.

3. Drain and place beans in a large glass or porcelain bowl. Set aside.

4. Meanwhile, place carrots in same 2-quart saucepot; cover with cold water and bring to a boil.

5. Cook for 1 minute or until carrots are crunchy-tender.

6. Drain carrots and add to the beans in bowl. Add salt, pepper, garlic, olive oil and toss. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Serve immediately as a side to fish, chicken or steak. Drizzle with a little balsamic cream (optional).

*Balsamic cream is a thick, glazed reduction of dark balsamic vinegar. Balsamic vinegar is from Modena, Italy. It is made from the Trebbiano grape and is aged in wooden barrels for several years. There are two varieties of balsamic vinegar: the dark and light variety. Both the cream and the vinegar can be found online at Amazon.com®.

Text and Photographs ©2011 Nancy DeLucia Real