Eat your vegetables! Who hasn’t heard this, or uttered it, over and over again. Sometimes getting your kids, your spouse, yourself to eat vegetables seems like an uphill battle. Let’s face it, not everyone goes crazy for luscious greens like vlita or okra, or is satisfied with a meal whose main star is cauliflower. In fact, today we crave vegetables but there was a time when we would plan covert operations to stealthily dispose of the grossness that our parents put before us; our spanakorizo disposal tactics were legendary. Still, even in the throes of our vegetable-hating youths, we never rejected vegetables that were marinated and grilled, and which usually happened to be served along with grilled souvlaki or steak.
Steamed broccoli served with olive oil and a dash of lemon juice
Broccoli was never a hated vegetable in our house. No one cringed when it was served. No one pushed it around on their plate until they could slip it to the dog (not that we had a dog). We simply ate it, because we loved it. Seriously. And our parents only ever served it one way.
There are some things which are simply, quintessentially, Greek. Your mother insisting that you not leave the house with wet hair, to avoid pneumonia, is one. Having several members of your family with the same first name, sometimes paired with the same last name, is another. Calling anyone who is even remotely related to you, your cousin, is yet another. And horta-picking…well, that is one, perfect, Greek thing.
This is rapini…or broccoli rabe…or broccoletti…or about a thousand many other names which would tend to have you believe that this lovely green vegetable comes from the broccoli family. But it doesn’t! In fact, rapini (that’s what we like to call it around here) is in the mustard family and a member of the Brassica rapa species, in the subspecies rapa…the same subspecies where you would find turnip! Bet you didn’t see that coming! In fact, once you taste rapini, it’s relation to turnip is not that surprising; both have a peppery bite and a bitterness that is not at all unpleasant when the vegetable is prepared properly.