We are in the middle of September and around here there are quite a few Farmers´ Markets meriting a visit. One particularly nice one is in the town of Burscheid, a mere 25 kilometers from Cologne. We have been faithful visitors for a few years now.
Burscheid is a small town in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, with less than twenty thousand inhabitants. It is near to the major cultural centers of Cologne and Dusseldorf.
The quaint little town is known for its beautiful town center with its marketplace and churches and the beautiful slate houses. The settlement was first mentioned in a historic document in 1175 and was granted town privileges in 1856.
So when the late summer sun was shining on Sunday, we paid a visit to the market (now in ist 18th year) to shop for some wonderful local vegetables and regional products, such as the wonderful rapini („Rübstiel“) – recipe will follow below - kohlrabi ("Kohlrabi") and lots of carrots ("Möhren").
These big light-orange pumpkins ("Speisekürbis") caught everyone´s attention.
And we admired the huge, loosely layered, crisp, curling leaves of the so-called butter cabbage („Butterkohl“). This cabbage is a type of savoy cabbage („Wirsing“).
It is a light-green fall cabbage with attractive, crinkled leaves, a mild flavor and a rather robust texture. It is exceptionally good for use in cooked dishes. It is almost impossible to find anywhere these days – unfortunately, due to a certain lack of consumer demand, farmers do not really plant it anymore.
Who can resist buying way too many of these summer squash ("gelbe Zucchinis") and courgettes ("grüne Zucchinis") of many different sizes and colors. And wonderful Hokkaido squash ("Hokkaido Kürbis") - later in the week, I will enjoy making a velvety Hokkaido squash soup with a dash of Spanish smoked paprika.
Many different kinds of honey from a local beekeeper who also sells honey candy to soothe your throat and sweet mead ("Honigwein"). And will dispense with lots of helpful advice as to all the different uses of honey.
You could taste the different varieties of honey to your heart´s content - the offerings included light yellow runny honeys, dark brown forest honey ("Waldhonig"), and light-yellow, thick rapeseed honey ("Rapshonig").
And so many lovely flowers to choose from, such as these white and purple perrenial pansies ("Stiefmütterchen").
Or you could plant these dark, velvety, purple pansies in your autumn garden. It is not too late for planting these yet.
Sunflowers ("Sonnenblumen") look particularly nice in the late autumn sun. They seem to have a golden glow and will certainly look beautiful in one of those big vases at home.
Fruit brandies and liqueurs such as apple or pear liqueur („Apfelbrand, Birnenbrand“) and strawberry, currant, raspberry, apple and pear brandies („Erdbeer-Likör, Johannisbeer-Likör, Himbeer-Likör, Apfel-und Birnen-Likör“).
And a lot of lovely fruit juices ("Obstsäfte") – apple, rhubarb, or sour cherry, to name but a few.
Fresh berries from a local blueberry farm ("Blaubeeren").
Jams ("Marmeladen") and jellies ("Gelees") and fruit molasses ("Apfel- und Birnenkraut").
Freshly-picked late season blackberries ("Brombeeren") - I bought two packages. Since my lemon verbena is still producing many fragrant leaves, I baked a Blackberry-Bundt with Lemon Verbena ("Brombeer-Gugelhupf mit Zitronenverbene") with these (recipe can be found here).
And those wonderful Italian plums („Zwetschen“) - perfect for baking my beloved fruit-ladden, old-fashioned Plum Torte ("Pflaumenkuchen") with a hint of cinnamon and vanilla (the recipe can be found here).
From the looks of it, all visitors to the market seemed to be enjoying themselves.
The bell tower of the local church providing a very pretty backdrop for the event.
Now that you brought your farmers´ market loot home, it is time to get cooking with some of the produce, such as the slightly bitter rapini ("Rübstiel"). This autumn rapini does not keep very long, maybe a day, but only if you wrap it well and store it in a cool place. It is definitely at its best the day it was harvested.
Creste di Gallo with Rapini and Ground Pork - Rübstiel Pasta mit Hack und Parmesan
(serves about four)
Ingredients for the Pasta and Sauce
- sea salt (for boiling the pasta and the rapini)
- 2 bunches autumn rapini (about 500 grams each), cleaned and roughly chopped
- about 1⁄3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 500 grams freshly ground pork
- 4 spring onions, cleaned and sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, sliced very thinly
- 1 tbsp. dried oregano (preferably Italian)
- 400 grams pasta (such as "Creste di Gallo", you can use any smallish type of pasta that will suit this type of sauce)
- some freshly grated lemon zest (organic, please)
- some shaved parmigiano reggiano (or other hard cheese)
- fine sea salt and freshly ground black peper to taste
Preparation of the Pasta
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add rapini and boil until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer rapini to a large bowl of ice water and chill. Drain rapini, pat dry, and set aside.
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add ground pork. Cook over high heat to color the meat, breaking up any lumps with the back of a fork. Drain the pork, discard any fat. Wipe skillet clean.
- Heat more olive oil in the skillet over medium heat again. Add spring onions and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 3 minutes. Add oregano (run it through your fingers while adding, to release the essential oils) and cook, stirring frequently, for 30 seconds. Add rapini, toss. Add browned meat, toss again and remove pan from heat; set aside.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes, or according to package instructions. 5. Drain pasta (keep a good cup of the pasta water for thinning out the sauce)and transfer pasta to a colander. Drain.
- Toss the pasta with the sauce to combine, add some of the pasta water to the sauce to let all the ingredients come together to make a lovely sauce.
- Grate some lemon zest over, garnish with a few shavings of parmigiano reggiano and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Divide pasta between bowls/plates and serve immediately.
The slightly bitter rapini marries well with hearty ground pork, the oregano and the wonderfully salty parmigiano reggiano in this dish. If you are looking for another layer of flavor to add to this dish, why not infuse a bit of godd-quality olive oil with herby from your garden, some garlic and lemon and drizzle a bit over the finished pasta - heavenly.