From time to time I buy something at the farmer’s market that I have either never seen or maybe I have never tried to cook before. One time it was a hairy light green cucumber, another time it was purple heads of broccoli, and etc. Last night was another time for a food experiment. For some reason I felt a need to try to cook something new. I went to the little hole-in-wall vegetable stand (the farmer’s market is only in the morning) with expressed purpose of buying something new. I talked to the lady there about something new and she said “pasta con rape”. I thought, why not? I’ve had it in restaurants and it seems quite simple and it’s considered a local dish. So with her guidance I bought a ton of “rape” (rah-peh), some garlic (I was low on that), and alici (anchovies). She and her friend ripped the rape down into pieces that I could cook taking off the main stems.
Now to me rape looks a lot like broccoli that never grows the broccoli head. It even has little broccoli like heads and a lot of leaves. As I started to cook I realized I had way too much rape and it was going to dominate the dish. So I added more of other ingredients (anchovies and garlic). The smell was great and the blue green leaves turned the dark green that made it clear why I didn’t immediately identify the rape in the store. I was rather proud of my concoction and it tasted very good but the rape was a little bitter. I threw some ricotta on top of the “pasta con rape” and it seemed to make the flavor much more balanced. While this dish was good it was more work than the pasta with tomato sauce so... Also I always dread all the dishes that are left to clean. It’s a good thing that while I was there I bought a bag of their minestrone soup. Tonight I’ll just throw the bag of cut up vegetables in some chicken broth and have that or just get a pizza. Nights of food experimentation are also followed by nights of simplicity!!!
Along with this I should plug a website that I found but I haven’t used as much as I would like. It’s www.slowfood.com. It’s pretty obvious what it is and it started in Italy, which only makes sense. Look at the author’s names on the articles and you’ll see the Italian origins. There is an Italian version if you just put “.it” instead of “.com”. They are dedicated to preserving unique foods and “taste education”. The advice on cheap wines alone is worth looking at on this site!!