Last Note from LA: Another New Vegetable

March 5, 2014


Spigariello (or as it's sometimes known, spigarello). 

My last visit to the Hollywood Farmers Market, and to my great sadness the Santa Barbara fish man wasn’t there.  Of course he wasn’t; the weather had turned violent, with storm skies all week long. 

I missed the beautiful sea urchins, black prickly spines waving menacingly from their tubs of sea water. And I longed for just a few more of those ridge back shrimp which never make their way back East. 

But there are always treasures here, unexpected finds, new discoveries. Today it is this spigariello, a member of the broccoli family I’ve never encountered before.  More leaf than bud, it looks like underdeveloped broccoli rabe. I reached out, pinched off a little taste and put it in my mouth. Delicious! The leaves are sweet, with an underlying darkness, a bitter note that hits you right at the end. I wondered how the flavors would be transformed by heat.  

At home I washed the leaves, then pulled the slim branches off the thick stalks and blanched them for a couple of minutes in copious amounts of boiling salted water.  When the leaves changed color I plunked them into an ice water bath to set that shade of green.  Then I wrung them out, sauteed them in olive oil, with a bit of garlic and just a hint of chile. 

Broccoli-loathers, beware: this stuff will change your mind. 

Cooked spig

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