time for tops : spring green tops

If there's a time for tops—green tops : beet, turnip, radish, carrot and the like tops—it is spring ! The producers I frequent at my favorite marketplaces always see me coming and fill my bag with top from the fresh bunches of turnips, beets, etc. that most of their clients ask then to chop off. Into the trash they normally go—such a shame—when I am dearly fond of them ! So out of the trash they come and home with me to become erbazzone, soup, pesto... The very baby ones might get tossed into a salad.

Most recently I've been making something called rocciata, which I discovered while visiting a friend in Umbria. This traditional rustic recipe comes in two flavors: sweet and savory (both easily vegan). I'm sharing the savory one with you today; next week the sweet one. All rolled up inside a tender pastry dough, your spring green tops are right at home.

I find the concentrated taste of all those chlorophyll filled greens are wonderfully accompanied by a nice natural rosé wine, such as Jean-François Chéné's (la Coulée d'Ambrosia) Panier de fruits or Jean-Luc and Isabelle's (Domaine Jolly-Ferriol) Joly Rosé.

I recently read this article by Dan Barber, co-owner of Blue Hill, in the opinion pages of the NYTimes about "engaging in the nuts and bolts of true agricultural sustainability." Quite generous, eye-opening, humbling and inspiring...

ROCIATTA con l'ERBE – 4 to 8 persons
an adaptation...

dough :
200 gr unbleached pastry flour (or a mixture or unbleached and wholewheat)
45 ml extra virgin olive oil
100 ml warm water
10 gr Parmigiano, freshly grated (optional)

filling :
500 gr greens (any and all tops, Swiss chard, spinach, tender kale, dandelion, mustard... make up a seasonal mixture if you like)
1 lemon for zest
3 - 4 sprigs flat parsley, coarsely chopped
2 sprigs fresh mint, coarsely chopped (or wild fennel, cilantro, or whatever else might be in season and inspires you)
20 gr Parmigiano, freshly grated (optional)
1 small garlic clove (optional), cut in half, the sprout removed and coarsely chopped
Tiny pinch crushed red pepper flakes (optional) 
Extra virgin olive oil
Unrefined sea salt

|||  Sift the flour and a pinch of salt into a bowl. Add the Parmigiano, if using. Work the olive oil into the flour mixture. Add the warm water and stir to combine. (if not using Parmigiano, start with a bit less water, say 90 ml). The dough should be just shy of sticky. Pour out onto a floured surface and knead for a couple three minutes, until the dough is pliable and bounces back when you press your finger into it. Cover with a glass bowl and set aside for 30 minutes.

|||  Wash your greens and shake them off a bit. Transfer to a large skillet, add a splash of water if needed—just enough to wet the bottom of the skillet. Cover and cook over medium-high heat until just wilted, 2 - 4 minutes, depending on the green, and turning the whole bunch once. (You'll probably need to do this in two batches.) Transfer to a calendar to drain then spread out to cool. When cool enough squeeze out any excess water and chop finely. (I never throw the drained or squeezed cooking water out... make for a great glass of "water" if you're thirsty, or as part of a broth.)

|||  Preheat the oven to 180 ˚C (375 ˚F).
Heat a generous drizzle of olive oil in the skillet used for wilting the greens, rinsed out and dried. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes if using. Add the greens and cook over medium heat for a minute. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the Parmigiano, if using, parsley, herbs, and a generous pinch of lemon zest. (If not using Parmigiano, add a good drizzle of olive oil to the mixture.)
Season with sea salt to taste. Stir to combine. Set aside.

|||  Give the dough a couple kneads on a floured surface then roll out into a rectangle quite thin. (You can also cut the dough in half and make two rolls.) Spread the filling evenly over the surface, keeping it a bit in from the side edges and from one end. Gently roll up (not too tightly) keeping the overlapping end underneath. Pinch the side edges together and place the roll on a baking sheet (lined with a piece of parchment paper if you wish). Bake in the oven for approx 25 minutes, until turning lightly golden.

|||  Let cool before slicing up. Garnish with freshly ground pepper. Pour a glass of natural rosé wine and enjoy !

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