Adding crunch to greens – verdura croccantella

We all know the ditty about beans being good for the heart (the more you eat, the more you ….) and I wonder why there isn’t one for ‘greens’ …. Greens greens are good for the spleen, the more you eat, the more you’ll thrive, the more you thrive, the  better you feel, so eat your greens at every meal …. something like that?

Italians take their ‘verdura’ (green vegetables) very seriously and do indeed eat a good amount on a regular basis …. be they spinach, broccoli, chard or cicoria or wild leaves or a mixture of leaves.  The real nuisance is cleaning them because it can take a while.  (There was a time when I’d craftily make my weekly verdura shop coincide with the evening my mother-in-law would come to supper and engage her in the cleaning process.)  For the rest, they need to boiled and then drained and then pressed hard, to remove the bitter liquid from their innards.  The verdura can be eaten with just some olive oil and lemon, or cooked again in a frying pan, with some garlic, chilli and olive oil.  This is called ‘ripassata’ … as in ‘cicoria ripassata’ or ‘broccoletti ripassati’.

Here is my version of verdura ripassata with greens bought at the Ariccia Farmers’ Market.  Please duly appreciate how meticulous and sedulous I am in cleaning the leaves prior to boiling them … and then people say I lack patience! ouff …


It took a lot of rinsing to get them clean enough to eat!

Boiling water …

Put the greens in the boiling water …

Pour more boiling water on top.  They need plenty of water to cook in.  And you’ll notice how the heat makes them wilt straight away and their volume will reduce too.

Use a slotted spoon or a pasta drainer such as the one in the photo to help you drain the verdura or greens.  They need to be transferred to a large bowl or basin with cold water in it.  This serves two purposes: it cools down the verdura and it also leeches out any bitterness from the leaves (especially when one is dealing with cicoria).

See how dark the water has become!  On the left, you can see the verdura that has been transferred to a plastic basin with cold water in it.

At last, when the verdura has cooled down, you can drain it.  Press it hard with two hands to get rid of excess liquid.  It is then ready to be eaten, with just some olive oil, salt and pepper, and some lemon juice.  However, I chose to take the route of cooking it up in a frying pan – ripassare in padella.


To make the verdura even tastier, I decided I would add croutons of stale bread and some guanciale.

My bread was really stale and would have wrought untold damage to anyone’s teeth, most dangerous … and so to bring some life back to it, I steamed it for a few minutes.  It works like magic!!!

All fluffy again!

I decide to grind the bread in the processor for a bit … not too much.

I slice some and put it in the food processor to grind it up a bit, just a little …

Here is some lovely look guanciale.  I cut some into strips.

Slice up some onion and sweat it in a large frying pan with the guanciale.  People who like a bit of spice can also add some chilli flakes.

Add the bread that has been slightly crumbled in the processor.  Stir all the ingredients so that the bread absorbs a lot of taste as well as acquiring crunch.

No add some cherry tomatoes cut in half.

Sqash them down a bit with a potato masher … this will help release their juices.

Add the verdura.  Mix well.  Add some more olive oil as well as salt and pepper.

Beautiful or what! Savoury from the guanciale, crunchy from the bread, sweet from the tomatoes and the onions … what better way to enjoy your greens!


About myhomefoodthatsamore

Community celebration via food, wine and all beautiful things.
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One Response to Adding crunch to greens – verdura croccantella

  1. Liz Macri says:

    I love vedure ripassate, and this recipe looks so delicious!!!

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