Discovering lesser-known seasonal heirlooms is one of the many perks to shopping weekly at my local farmers market. Being a devout locavore insures I’m buying farm fresh produce at the peak of harvest, and introduces me to fruits and veggies I simply wouldn’t find at conventional grocery stores.
Case in point: I was perusing my usual favorite vendors at last Sunday’s Marin Civic Center Farmers Market, when something new caught my eye in the Star Route Farms booth. This West Marin-based farm is the oldest continuously certified organic grower in California, and I can always count on them to bring something special. Have you heard of spigarello? At first glance, it looks like the offspring of a clandestine union between kale and broccoli. This beautiful cruciferous heirloom has long slender stems with dark wavy green leaves that add a touch of whimsy. I was instantly drawn to the tangled strands which spilled gracefully from their large bin. I love trying new things, so I carefully picked a robust bouquet to bring home and asked the farmer for some cooking guidance. Spigarello is a primitive heirloom varietal of the broccoli family and is native to Southern Italy. One source calls it the “parent of broccoli rabe.” It tastes a lot like broccoli, only better. The mild, grassy-flavored leaves add a delicious raw crunch to salad, or can be quickly wilted in a hot sauté pan with some olive oil and garlic to serve as side dish or vegetarian entrée. I decided to try the pan method, and it was fantastic. This simple recipe for sautéed spigarello comes together in minutes and shows off this heirloom veggie at its best. Enjoy! SAUTEED SPIGARELLO (serves 2 generously)
Printable recipe: SAUTEED SPIGARELLO from Farministas Feast
- 1 large bunch spigarello, rinsed & cut into 6″ lengths (*discard the fibrous stems)
- 2-3 tablespoons Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
- 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 2-3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
- sea salt
- fresh ground pepper
- Fresh grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
- Drizzle of best quality aged Balsamic vinegar (optional)
- Add olive oil and sliced garlic to a cold sauté pan. Place the pan on the stovetop over medium heat until the garlic begins to turn brown (about 1 minute), stirring occasionally.
- Add spigarello and sauté, stirring gently, until wilted (about 1-2 minutes more).
- Add pepper flakes & pine nuts. Toss to distribute evenly.
- Finish with a grind of sea salt & cracked pepper. If desired, use a microplane to grate some Parmesan cheese on top and finish with a drizzle of aged Balsamic vinegar.