New Year, New Greens
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.