Le cime di rape are similar to our broccoli rabe, only here they are very bitter and much leafier. Le rape are fundamental to the winter diet here in Barletta, and during the months of November through February, you can find them prepared in various ways in every kitchen. I like the traditional pasta dish but you can also sautè them, bake them, put them on crostini or serve them with shellfish.
First, get at least two kilos from your local grocer to serve three people. (They shrink down a lot.)
Second, clean the stalks by removing the bigger leaves and leaving the smaller, tender leaves along with the broccoletti.
Next, boil a pot of abundantly salted water and drop in your cime di rape. Let them boil for about ten minutes and then add in the pasta. Traditionally used are orecchiette, spaghetti or tripoline which are my favorite; they are like fettuccine with one curly lasagna-like side.
Drain the pasta and the cime together and plate them with a splash of extra virgin olive oil and grate some fresh black pepper on top. No cheese allowed according to tradition, "it doesn't marry well," they say.
(Pappy, try this and let me know how it comes out!)