Best of Rome: Greens

Bringing Home Rome, Cook, Learn, Primers, Regional Spotlight

Wild borage, deep-green chard, crisp lettuces, pink-tinged spinach, crunchy puntarelle and an abundance of broccolis and chicories — the array of greens (and red, yellows and oranges) makes the Roman vegetable markets among the most exciting sights in a city hardly lacking in visual interest.


Broccolo Romanesco 

The florets of this green (cavlo broccolo romanesco, properly) are delicious simply boiled or steamed and dressed with olive oil and a squeeze of lemon or deep-fried as a part of fritto misto. They can also be boiled or sauteed, or served on pasta.







Cicoria Selvatica 

Wild chicory’s flavor ranges from pleasantly bitter to very bitter indeed. The leaves should be rinsed and trimmed, dropped in a pot of boiling salted water and cooked until tender. Most people prefer to saute the boiled greens with garlic and chile.









Misticanza Romana 

Although misticanza can refer top an assortment of greens, la misticanza romana is a wintertime mix that includes chicory, salad burnet, wood sorrel, borage, endive and poppy greens. It is usually dressed with only vinegar and olive oil.




Lattuga Romana 

Romaine lettuce is used as any salad green in Rome, but unlike other lettuces, it can also be cooked as an addition to other dishes or braised on its own and served as a contorno.








Similar to broccoli rabe, broccoletti make an excellent addition to pasta, or they can be served as a side dish, boiled and dressed with olive oil and lemon juice.









Rughetta Selvatica 

Best translated as “wild arugula,” rughetta selvatica has a bitter, peppery flavor. It’s often mixed with cherry tomatoes or other greens for a salad, but is delicious on its own, or combined with sliced green onions and shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano.





In Italy, whole spinach leaves are usually steamed and served with butter or lemon and olive oil. Spinach can also be sauteed with raisins and pine nuts; the smallest leaves are often sold for salads.





These fresh, slightly bitter salad greens are always served in Rome with a dressing made with anchovy and garlic.




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