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New Year, New Greens

January 8, 2013

Cime di Rapa


They say that eating greens on New Year’s Day will bring wealth and prosperity for the coming year.  Too bad this doesn’t apply year-round, because I love me some greens!  The lack of variety of dark green leafy vegetables available in Paris has been a bit of a bone of contention the last few years, because one can only eat spinach and chard so many times, and the climate in France should be conducive to growing all kinds of healthy greens.

Enter The Kale Project.  Kristen is something of a food superhero these days in Paris, having championed a rapidly growing movement to get kale into the markets here.  There are now a handful of places around town to buy the delicious, nutritious vegetable, and more and more farmers are starting to grow it, so I hope it will be increasingly available throughout the winter.

But kale isn’t the only green missing from my plate.  Broccoli rabe (aka rapini) is an old favorite of mine which (until very recently, anyway) I haven’t seen since moving across the Atlantic.  I’ve tried replacing it with so-called broccoli leaves and other “exotic” greens found in the city’s Asian markets, and these are good, and I’m sure very nutritious, but they lack the mustardy bite and sharp bitterness of true broccoli rabe.

So where has this delectable leafy green been spotted?  At the vegetable seller on the corner of rue Cambronne and rue Lecourbe in the 15th.  I walked by a few weeks ago, on a Sunday morning hunt for something else, when I saw a pile of leaves with small bunches of tiny flowers among them.  I did a double take, inspected the sign, which read “cime di rapa” – the Italian name – and picked it up.  The bunch was huge, so I asked the friendly Portuguese owner if he would kindly sell me half of the bunch.  He did, no problem, and then seemed surprised that I knew this vegetable.  I asked if he had it regularly, and he told me that he will be getting it in every Thursday until March.  This is very exciting news.

That first bunch I braised with white wine, tomatoes, chile flakes, a couple anchovies and lots of garlic, and it was wonderful over twirly pasta.  You can be sure I’ll be getting more before the season is through.

Now, how about some mustard greens?

Originally published on Seasonal Market Menus.

  1. January 12, 2013 7:34 am

    It had never occurred to me that things like this would be hard to find in Paris, I guess I see more the myth rather than the reality. I thought there was enough of a multicultural population in such a large city that you’d be able to find just about anything! Kale isn’t common in Australia, I’ve only had it a few times, and still find it a bit challenging.

  2. January 12, 2013 2:08 pm

    Thanks for the kind words Camille- and your find of broccoli rabe is awesome! I agree it is something also near impossible to find, but it sounds like you have a legitimate source. I’m friends with the blogger, Ella Coquine, and she is always talking about the lack of broccoli rabe, so I passed this along to her.

  3. January 12, 2013 4:13 pm

    Louise – It’s continually surprising what you can and can’t find here.

    Kristen – You deserve the accolades! Here’s to more healthy greens in Paris in 2013!

  4. January 12, 2013 4:23 pm

    I grew up on cime di rapa and have been missing it so much here in Paris. I’m heading down to the 15th this week to pick some up! THANK YOU so much for sharing!!

    Also, excellent write-up on The Kale Project! I’m a huge fan of what Kristen is doing!

  5. January 17, 2013 5:15 pm

    ellacoquine – It’s my pleasure to help fellow lovers of this awesome vegetable!

  6. January 22, 2013 5:05 am

    It’s amazing how joyful the small victories can be, isn’t it?

  7. January 23, 2013 5:57 pm

    Inger – Indeed!

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