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What's that vegetable? Go green with spigarello

Michelle Hainer

Looking to add new greens to your mix? Try sauteed spigarello.

When we moved out to the suburbs last summer, one of the first things I searched for in my new town was a farmers market. I visited the one in NYC’s Union Square Park several times a week and I was hoping to find a similar set up nearby.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover a fantastic outdoor farmers market about 10 minutes from our house and even more pleased when I stumbled upon a table run by Blooming Hill Farm, an organic farm in Blooming Grove, N.Y. They always have really interesting greens to choose from (some I’ve never even heard of) as well as helpful tips on how to prepare them. Last Sunday I picked up a bag of spigarello, whose accompanying sign promised that it was similar to kale, only better. Since we are avid kale eaters, I was intrigued and anxious to try this exotically named green.

After doing a bit of research, I learned that spigarello is actually an heirloom variety of broccoli rabe — minus the bitterness. Spigarello hails from Southern Italy and its leaves can be both small or large. (If the leaves are large, it’s best to discard the stems, as you’d do with kale). I thought it tasted more like kale than broccoli, but one thing I think you’ll agree on is that it’s delicious, especially in this recipe from Bret Macris, chef at Rose Water, in Brooklyn, N.Y. I didn’t have a shallot, so I omitted it, but definitely don’t skip the honey. It adds a note of sweetness that shouldn’t be missed!

Sauteed spigarello with chile flakes and honey

  • 2 bunches spigarello
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon shallot, minced
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • Pinch dried red chile flakes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Lemon to taste 
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • Coarse sea salt to finish

Cut off the lower stems of the spigarello leaves. (If the leaves are large and the stems tough throughout, remove them completely, as you might from kale.) Blanch the leaves and drain them in a colander, or dry them on paper towels or in a salad spinner. Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Just before the oil starts to smoke, add the spigarello and cook until slightly brown around the edges and a little crisp. Add the shallots, garlic, and chili flakes. Lower heat to medium or medium-low and cook, but don’t brown the shallots and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice. Plate the spigarello, drizzle with honey, and sprinkle a little sea salt over the top.

Get more tips and recipes for seasonal eats at Made By Michelle.

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