When an uncurled fern frond first peaks through the soil in the spring, it is called a "fiddlehead". Fiddlehead ferns offer an earthy, nutty flavor that has been likened to the taste of asparagus, artichokes, and mushrooms.
Hairy eggplant may be eaten raw by themselves or cooked in dishes to add a touch of piquant sweet and sourness -
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Spigarello broccoli are wavy edible greens with thin fibrous stems. At peak maturity the greens will produce edible flowers but never large floret heads like common broccoli. The flavor of Spigarello is mild, slightly grassy and sweet and void of the bitterness often associated with field greens. Its texture is tender, succulent and crunchy.
Broccoli Spigarello has a peak season from mid winter into the spring months, however, it can be found sporadically throughout the year.
Spigarello broccoli is an heirloom variety considered to be the parent of broccoli rabe. The name Spigarello is actually a purposed American corruption of the plant's given name, Spigariello. Its real name is Cima di Rapa, which translates to "turnip top" but is also loosely translated to broccoli rabe. Names of plants vary depending on local usage, so it is not uncommon for Spigariello to also become known as Cima di Rapa or simply Spigarello. The American name Spigarello allowed the broccoli green variety's true origins to remain nearly undiscovered, a virtue that farmers enjoy, their seeds often untraceable, allowing for near growing exclusivity. There are dozens of Spigarello varieties, including Quarantina, Sessantina and Novantina. Some varieties are smooth-leaved, others curled.
Spigarello can be utilized in a similar fashion to Cavolo Nero (Black kale). It is recommended to trim the stems prior to culinary use. The leaves can be used as a salad green, wilting green or as soup green. Spigarello pairs well with anchovies, bacon, cheeses, especially aged sheep's cheeses and melting cheeses, cream and cream based sauces such as béchamel and hollandaise, garlic, citrus, legumes, peppers, potatoes, onions, shallots and vinaigrettes.
Spigariello is native to Southern Italy, specifically Napoli and Puglia. It is considered a primitive ancestral variety. It is a cut-and-come-again cool season crop that can withstand slight frost and will deliver multiple harvests per one singular plant. The only other prominent growing region outside of Italy is southern California. The seeds were "imported" from Italy in the late 20th Century and cultivated on a coastal farm near Seattle. The seeds exchanged hands and were planted along California's rich farming coastline in Carpinteria, a regions whose climate is similar to that of Italy's coastal regions. Seed catalogs now make several varieties available, allowing for even a home gardener to plant the once illusive green in any planting zone within the Northern Hemisphere.
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