I'm starting out the week with a mystery. What is this vegetable?
I got it on Saturday at a wonderful store we have here that is part wholesale food supply store, part ethnic grocery. The wholesale part shows itself in 5 kilo bags of frozen shrimp and bulk produce sold at unbelievably low prices. The ethnic part though is what gets me excited every time I go there, which is quite often because it's conveniently located on my regular commuting route. They stock all kinds of exciting looking spices and ingredients for Indian, Tamil, Turkish, former-Yugoslavia region, and other cuisines that are mostly quite unfamiliar to me. And the selection of unusual produce is unparalleled.
Back to the vegetable though. It was labeled as Cima di Rapa, or broccoli rabe. But it doesn't look like the broccoli rabe I know, which looks like regular broccoli shoots amongsts dark green leaves. This one had really pretty rounded, light green flower buds (at least I'm assuming they are flower buds), each about the size of my thumb. Here's a close up of the flower buds.
I cooked it like I might broccoli rabe or regular broccoli: I took out the flower buds, cut them in half lengthwise, chopped up the leaves, and sautéed them both in olive oil with garlic. The flower buds were crunchy, a touch buttery, and just a bit bitter. The leaves were more bitter though still edible. Since I love vegetables with a touch of bitterness to them, I thought it was delicious.
Is this a variety of Cima di Rapa / broccoli rabe, or something else? And what other ways are there of cooking it?
[Update: As many people have pointed out in the comments I now know that it's puntarelle or catalogna. So no more need to comment or email me about it - thanks!]