April 06, 2010

Putting Up Rapini

The recorded message...

"...and for our Italian friends, pick your own Rapini."

With the sun shining, he hopped into his truck, took exit from the city, and made the trek to the country. The road was winding, flanked by budding and blooming trees. Lilac, cherry blossom, oak and pine. Wild Daffodils swayed with their faces towards the sun. Spring sounded off, saturating his vision, penetrating his lungs. Just up over the hill, in a clearing, the stand bulged out at the curve in the road.

The old man snipped away at the tender stalks, shaking off the excess water (he wished to pay for the rapini, not the rain that lay trapped in its furled leaves). Filling bag after bag, his back ached. Over 40 pounds of rapini. 50 cents a pound.

By afternoon we were soaking young, tender rapini in preparation for a quick blanch in salted water.

There were two pots set to boil. Six batches later, my fingers stung from handling infernal, limp stalks. Row after row slept between layers of paper towels.

Roberto chopped everything to a manageable size, piling fistfuls high in our largest Pyrex bowl.


We put up seven storage bags worth in our freezer that day. A glimmer of what's ahead. Local produce, picked at its peak. Put up for future use.

15 comments:

  1. I can't wait for the local produce to come rolling in. Way to get a jump on it!

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  2. rapini is one of my latest vegetable addictions. love it steamed, tossed with whole grains or pasta, etc. jealous of the 7 bags stashed in your freezer!

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  3. Oh wow! I've never used or eaten rapini in my life. You've intrigued me and I'm going to keep a weather eye open at the market. :-)

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  4. Beth - Now we just have to keep up the momentum.

    carolyn - Hoping to stash away even more. Anxious for the the farmers markets to burst open with the goods.

    Tart - You'll be hearing about rapini here again soon. The simplest of preparations. I hope you're able to find it locally.

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  5. Wow. You describe quite an ordeal. Where did that take place? I love rapini. Send some my way!

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  6. Seriously? You have rapini, ready, in season?? I adore it with a vengeance. Could eat it daily. Have 8 tiny two-leafed sprouts on my window sill. Gah. I'm green with envy. (What I mean is, THRILLED, that someone has such bounty :)

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  7. I have to admit I've never had rapini before.... I see it at the farmers market all the time but never thought of buying it. How does it taste like, what do you cook it with???? I'm curious.

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  8. I'm not sure what I like more. your rapini bounty or beautiful and very impressive organisation. Both. We have lots of nice litle spring shoots at the market too, which is not quite as nice as picking your own. Anyway hooray for spring and rapini.

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  9. I love the vintage pyrex bowl in the background!

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  10. redmenace – I wish I could send some your way...but I think the field was cleared by the Italians. They do love their rapini.

    Molly - It snuck up on us. We have so few early spring vegetables here. It will be my goal this year to put up as much as we can. A lot of work, but worth it.

    M. - Rapini is a bitter green that can be spicy, but sometimes mild and sweet (that's the variety we have at the moment). You can saute in extra virgin olive oil with garlic, crushed red pepper and salt or use it in pasta along with spicy Italian sausage. It's great leftover on crusty bread with your favorite cheese. Endless.

    racheleats - Yes, hooray for spring! I'm counting the days until our city farmers market opens. I'm looking forward to local asparagus and strawberries filling our kitchen.

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  11. Lindsey - We love our vintage pyrex bowls. :)

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  12. Good work! I love the variety of greens coming in now. The young rapini tends to be less bitter, so delicious. I used to have a pyrex bowl just like yours. Love the photo with the hands at work at the sink.

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  13. I always like to sneak in photos of Roberto's working hands when I can. :)

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