Beans plus greens isn’t something that normally measures high on the “excitometer”, but an age-old traditional Abruzzi dish of borlotti & rape (or in local dialect rap’ e fasciul) is not just tasty but starves off energy pangs for ages.
For those that haven’t tried borlotti, they are nature’s most beautiful beans and have to be the ones that were used in Jack & the Beanstalk. Moist, tender, creamy and nutty are the qualities that borlotti lends perfectly to the rape, in which the flavour of broccoli meets the bitterness of swiss chard (and which my greengrocer raved about for about 5 minutes when I asked for suggestions on how to cook it!).
It’s not a commonly served green in English-speaking countries, but this wonderful leaf works so well stir-fried or shredded into soups when you are looking for a green with a little more oompf than the ordinary spinach or cabbage – look out for it under the name of Turnip Greens, though that English variant on the name doesn’t do it justice and would almost make me run a mile.
This dish alone works perfectly for me for supper or lunch, but it can be served as antipasto, or if you want to be typically Abruzzesi alongside a fritta.
If using fresh borlotti beans, remove from skins and fast boil for 10 minutes. They require up to 20 minutes cooking. If using dried borlotti, soak for 24 hours before changing the water frequently, fast boil for 10 minutes & then soak for approximately 1 hour till tender. Rinse well & drain dry.
Wash the rape well, thoroughly dry in a salad dryer or in a tea towel and & shred into 1cm wide strips.
Add olive oil to a frying pan and gently fry the garlic adding the chilli after 2 minutes, add the rape and stir-fry for approximately 5 minutes till it’s a texture that you feel comfortable eating. Add the borlotti beans for another 2 minutes to warm and absorb the flavours of the rape and spices. Taste and add salt to taste.