While I was writing my book and researching info on Mediterranean cooking, I learned that the foraging of wild greens went beyond Greece – folks in Italy, southern France and in the Balkans like their bitter greens…and so should you!
Here in Canada, we don’t have the wealth of wild greens available to us in the countryside but there are many alternatives and they are to be found at your local farmer’s market or even supermarket!
A favourite here in Canada and the US has to be rapini, a bitter green with thick stalks, broad leaves and a hint of a look much like broccolini. Some call rapini cimi di rapa or broccoli raab. Anyway you like to call it, we have the Italians who settled in California near the turn of the 20th century for bringing this delicious green to North America.
Rapini is the base ingredient for this delicious pizza I made yesterday. It’s a source of vitamins A and C, high in iron and calcium. The other ingredient in this pizza is Italian sausage meat, another product widely available now in your local supermarket or favourite butcher’s shop. The great thing about thus pizza is that it has the decadence of the sausage, the health benefits from the rapini and the look, the contrast in colour makes it a beauty too!
Pizza With Rapini & Italian Sausage
approx. 1 cup of jarred tomato pasata (sauce)
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
approx. 3 cups of rapini
3 cloves of garlic, smashed
1 spicy Italian sausage
- To make the dough, add the water, olive oil, sugar, yeast into a medium size bowl and allow the yeast about 5-6 minutes to activate. Now add the salt and flour and knead with your hands until a smooth ball of dough is formed (not too sticky). Drizzle with olive oil and cover with plastic wrap. Place in a warm spot in your kitchen and allow to double in size (about 90 minutes).
- In the meantime, place a medium sized pot of water on your stovetop and bring up to a boil. Add a tablespoon of salt and once aboil, add your garlic and rapini and blanche for about 4 minutes. Remove from a strainer and run under cold water until cooled, then drain. Place in a bowl with a drizzle of olive oil and mash the garlic, toss and reserve.
- One your dough has doubled in size, sprinkle some flour on your pizza paddle roll out the dough into your pizza shape. Lift the underside of the dough and sprinkle cornmeal underneath so that the you’ll be able to slide your pizza on your pre-heated pizza stone. Pre-heat your oven to 450F, place the pizza stone on the rack set to middle position and add the minced garlic, black pepper and oregano to your sauce and mix. Spread the sauce on your pizza dough then top with mozzarella and spread the reserved rapini over the cheese.
- Now slice open the casing of your sausage and remove the meat (discard the casing). Roll the meat into little meatballs and scatter over your pizza.
- Once your oven has hit 450F, slide your pizza on the hot pizza stone and bake for approx 10 minutes or until the cheese has melted and the outer crust has just browned. Carefully remove from the oven and allow to cool for a couple of minutes before slicing. Serve a bottle of Terradorra Anglianco 2009 red.
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