Tag Archives: southern Italian dishes

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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Cooking caponata…

There are as many versions of caponata as there are cooks… so it’s said. The first written recipes date to the early 18th century but of course it’s one of those dishes handed down over many centuries from mother to daughter (and hopefully a few fathers and sons too). While it’s famously Sicilian, other regions like Calabria also have versions and most likely my (very rustic!) caponata will be completely different when I next cook it. This time I went with pretty much what I had on hand that would suit and baked it instead of frying (although frying creates more caramelisation and is very tasty). I’m guessing many of you will have your own delicious recipes perhaps handed down through generations, such a lovely tradition of cooking and passing on family history. xx

Ingredients (on hand!) for this version of caponata.

Chopped and tossed (in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, salt and lemon juice).

Baked and ready to serve (warm or cold).

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