Monday, August 16, 2010

How to Make Rapini

My first child's first babysitter not only took wonderful care of my baby.  She also fed our family a couple of nights a week, sending home dreamy pasta, roasted eggplant, and the most profoundly delicious veal I've ever tasted.  One evening at pickup time, she also taught me how to make rapini, which is Italian for spinach that tastes good.  

Back in 1997, I took my beautiful six-month old, blue-eyed darling to Rosa.  Her daughter, a new bride and eldest child, was my co-worker, which made Rosa was an Italian grandmother in training, and she loved my little girl without reservation. So even though I cried in the parking lot at work every morning for the first month, I knew I needn't worry.  And Rosa fed, no, nourished her: tender, tiny pasta with finely grated carrots and perfect sweet peas, so that when on weekends I opened a jar of Gerber's, my child looked a me as if to say, you want me to eat that? 

Now that sweet girl has her dad's hazel eyes and is officially taller than me, but I still make spinach the way Rosa taught me. This recipe has three of my favorite things in it, and then green stuff too. And it only takes two minutes, so wait until everything else for the meal is ready before you start it. 

Rosa's Rapini
2 tablespoons good-quality olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 cups of fresh spinach, washed with stems torn off, washed and dried carefully
2 pinches sea salt

Heat medium-sized saucepan to medium-high.  Add olive oil until you can swirl it around to cover the entire pan surface, then add garlic and stir with wooden spoon until it smells really good but isn't yet brown.  Add the spinach and then the first pinch of salt; stir quickly and add the second.  Cook the spinach, stirring to keep it from burning, until wilted, then serve and eat immediately.   

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