Autumn’s leafy veg is a welcome lift of vibrancy as the nights draw in. Here they are braised in garlic and chilli to serve with a platter of Roman-style breaded lamb cutlets and a dollop of green sauce
It seems a nice juxtaposition that, as the leaves change colour and fall into crisp piles or soggy heaps, recalling the remains of stewed tea, leafy vegetables are the most vigorous shades of green. In Rome, as I’ve mentioned before, the abundant favourite is cicoria (chicory), a cousin of dandelion with forest green, saw-edged leaves that are as bitter as a bad loser. There is also dark green chard with fleshy white stems, purple-tinged broccoli, and all shades of cabbage – savoy with its crinkled leaves being particularly handsome.
Green too is the new olive oil, chartreuse with a hint of fluorescence, smelling not so much of autumn but spring and freshly cut grass. Those fortunate enough to have olive trees in the family and to be having a good year – olive trees are capricious – are probably still in the process of pressing and bottling now, their land humming with industry, their work repaid by the ephemeral ritual that is smelling and tasting just-pressed oil on bread or toast. The rest of us have to go and buy it from a press or shop.