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 …
STEP 1 – COOKING THE VERDURA
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).
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.
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!!!