The mysterious… spigarello

The mysterious… spigarello, this ancient, Italian, wild green that seems also called cima di rapa, cavolo broccolo, getti di Napoli, spigariello and mistero nero. Some say it’s part of the broccoli family, others dispute it. I found this bunch at a roadside stall in southeast Queensland hinterland, a long way from southern Italy where for centuries women have picked and gathered into their upturned aprons this bitter green from the mountainsides.

And I can say when tasted fresh, it is quite bitter! But when cooked this mellows to an intense, unique, grassy flavour, much more complex than kale and tastes so healthy it must be doing you good. Many traditional recipes suggest frying it in olive oil with garlic and salt, others add lemon zest, pine nuts and raisins or put it in what is called ‘black soup’.

When trying to find out more about spigarello, I often came across words like – ancient, mystifying, heirloom, unexplained, unusual. Not sure why that makes me like it more but there’s something about finding and cooking with ‘mysterious’ Italian greens that have such ancient history behind them.

 

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