My definition of "soul food" is the traditional ethnic food that our ancestors ate out of necessity or because that's all there was. One example of such a meal is Greens and beans. Or greens with some sort of pasta or other starch. These items were as close as the backyard kitchen garden. Every ethnic kitchen has a bit of flour in the pantry and some olive oil. The eggs with which to make the pasta could be found out in the hen house. Voila! dinner is ready.

Today, medical experts call this the Mediterranean Diet which is supposed to be a heart healthy diet.

Our ancestors didn't have this type of diet because it was heart healthy or trendy but because that was all there was to eat. Meat was costly and also meant that you would be killing your assets. Live chickens gave you eggs which you could eat and sell. A live goat gave milk to drink and to make cheese. Both of which could be consumed at home and some to sell as well.

The simple food of our ancestors is now on the menus of upscale restaurants. Who would believe it? I know my Grandmother would not.

Rappi with Pumpkin Gnocchi is one of my favorites. If you want to make it, here's how:

1 bunch of fresh rappi (or rapini)

1 package of pumpkin gnocchi (or plain potato gnocchi or tortellini or 1 can of rinsed cannellini beans)

1 small shallot diced

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Optional: ½ cup of crushed tomatoes or sauce


Bring a sauce pot of water to a boil while you prepare the greens. Cut off thick stems of rappi. Plunge the whole bunch into a sink full of cool water and swish around a bit. Drain in a colander. Snip the rappi with kitchen shears into bite size pieces. Plunge into boiling, salted water. Cook for about 5-6 minutes. Remove from water with slotted spoon and drain again in the colander. Save the rappi water to cook the gnocchi according to the manufacturer’s directions.

Heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan on medium heat. Sweat the diced shallot in the oil.

Press the draining rappi with paper towel to remove as much cooking water as possible. Then add to the frying pan with the shallots. Stir around so the greens get covered with the oil. Saute while you boil the gnocchi in the rappi water (according the mfgr.’s directions). Remove the gnocchi from the pan with a slotted spoon and add to the greens and shallots in the frying pan and continue sautéing. Add salt and pepper.

If you’re adding the tomato sauce, add it at this point. If you’ll add tortellini instead of gnocchi, follow same directions as for gnocchi. If adding beans, rinse them, drain in a colander and add to the greens.

Add a ladle full of the rappi water to the frying pan so that you have a semi-soupy mixture.

Serve with a dusting of grated Romano cheese over it and a nice crusty piece of Italian bread. Bon appetit.

By Rita of sammysgrammy

Comments (4)

On February 10, 2015 at 11:21 AM , Sue Runyon said...

I'm pretty sure I'd want to eat the entire pan.

On February 10, 2015 at 11:27 AM , Anonymous said...

I am hungry. I love Gnocchi. Thanks for the recipe!

On February 12, 2015 at 8:46 AM , Jessica Backer said...

That looks so yummy!

On February 13, 2015 at 8:15 PM , Sue Runyon said...

Thanks so much, Rita. I tried a variation on this tonight with what I was able to find at Trader Joes - mixed greens with gnocchi and a sauce that was minced onion sauteed in olive oil and finished with some cream and parmesan cheese. It was a big hit with everyone.