Years ago when I was in Bari I had a pasta dish that is now quite popular in America. When I first had it I called home to tell Dad and Mom about it because I could hardly contain my excitement. The pasta dish consisted of sausage meat sautéed until brown and crispy, cooked rabe and Orecchiette, a small pasta shaped like a small hat or ear, (in Italian orecchio means ear.) all that goodness was tossed together and doused with olive oil. I remember the waiter bringing me a tiny plate that had four or five shaving of hard cheese on it and him motioning to me to eat the cheese with the regrettably insufficient portion of pasta and Rabe I was served. Apparently, we Americans are rather vulgar with our pasta portions, but that is exactly the type of vulgarity I like, the more pasta the better as far as I am concerned. This Rabe dish was truly magnificent. I will never forget that dish and either shall you if you make it.
More on Rabe… for an informal dinner one evening, I served a piece of poached white fish on top sautéed Rabe and potatoes, it was magnificent and everyone raved. I often serve browned sausage or pork chops on a bed of Rabe and cubed potatoes that I have finished off with balsamic vinegar, this is quite good too. One summer evening I had par-boiled a bunch of Rabe that was on sale (I never resist a good sale on Rabe and either should you, anyway, I bought an abundance of it) I was grilling that evening and I said to myself, why not? And I am glad I did! I tossed my par-boiled Rabe that I left whole and tossed in olive oil, lemon juice and fresh young rosemary leafs. I then put the Rabe on the grill for a few moments until just charred, took them off and finished them off with more of the dressing, I placed them on a tray with sliced lemon, they were truly mouthwatering and worth every swipe of your napkin across your chin. Don’t eat with hot dogs.
Here we go Kale—Most greens are wonderful in soup, take Kale for example. Years ago I lived in Provincetown for a short time and I indulged in Portuguese Kale Soup, a hearty staple down there at the tip of Massachusetts. I once had a conversation with an old sea captain who was 98 years old and partaking in a bowl of the local delicacy at popular eatery. He was sharp and bright, his beard white, eyes blue and stark, a rough, tough he-man type, like something out of Hemmingway novel. When I asked him the secret to his longevity, he pointed convincingly to the bowl of soup in front of him and without taking a breath, said, “Kale Soup, been eating it all my life” He then told me half-jokingly he was capable of catching a 75 ton whale and hauling in his own, joking or not, I think he could. Since I always listen to my elders I make Kale soup at least four times year and hope one day to catch a whale.
Portuguese Kale Soup
2 tablespoohe n Olive Oil
1 lb Chorizo Sausage (I use Kelebasa, I am not a fan of chorizo)
1 ½ quart chicken broth
1 large onion chopped.
2 cloves chopped garlic
4 large potatoes
1 bunch Kale Wash and chop it up good.
2 cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed.
Teaspoon of both Sage, Thyme, hot pepper flakes (all optional)
Sauté the onions in oil until translucent, add sausage and until a nice brown appears on them and on the bottom of the pan. Add Kale and a cup of broth. Cover and steam for a few minutes. Next add potatoes, garlic and rest of broth and spices, bring to a simmer. Add beans and check for flavor, adjust. Serve with plenty of bread or stuffed Quahogs and when eating praise a wise old sea captain if you know one.