Pasta with Sparaceddi


"Pasta chi Sparaceddi Assassunati"


The Sparaceddi  


Sparaceddi called also sparacelli is a vegetable similar to the broccoli raab or rape, rapine or broccoletti

This plant, native to the Mediterranean Basin and China, is related to the turnip, cabbage and mustard.  

The sparaceddi or sparacelli that grow in Sicily, have a short stem with tender leaves, topped with florets. 

The leaves, spouts and the stems, the size of a little finger are edible; sparaceddi can be consumed as contorno, side dish, or in the soupy pasta chi sparaceddi.
The sprouts, called giummi in
Palermo, are made of small light green and yellowish flowers.  

Sparaceddifrom Latin sparagus or sparagi changed into Medieval Latin to sparaci and it derives from the Greek aspharagos meaning shoot.
Sicilian sparaceddi have a delicate and mild taste and most of the time this vegetable is coupled with a sauce called assassunata, to dress the pasta or side dish of sparaceddi.
The word Assassunata derives from the French word assaissoner, to season; this word was adopted in the 13th century, when Beatrix, the daughter of Raymond-Berenger IV, Count of Provence, married Charles I d’Anjou, king of
Sicily and lived in Palermo. She made an effort to Frenchify Sicilian cooking and the quick, fast and plain sauce made of olive oil and garlic got the name assassunatu or assassunata

  Pasta with Sparaceddi


Sparaceddi are not available in the U.S. markets however since the nineties, in Japan it was developed a hybrid plant called broccolini, very similar to sparaceddi and available in selected markets year round. 

The broccolini are brought to the markets without leaves, they have thin stalks and small edible florets. 

Because the broccolini are not available at all time a combination of broccoli and broccoli di rape in the right proportion will give if not a perfect, an acceptable result. 

Shop in a reliable vegetable store and buy fresh broccoli and broccoli di rape; cut the broccoli in small florets, and use only the leaves and spouts of the broccoli raab and discard the bitter stems. 






·   12 oz. spaghetti broken in ¾ inch pieces 

·   2 bunch broccolini – sparaceddi (over 2 lb.) 

·   6 tablespoons of olive oil 

·   3 cloves of garlic crushed 

·   Salt and pepper to taste 



If broccolini are not available substitute with:  

·   1 bunch of broccoli (1 ½ to 2 lb.) (Andy Boy Broccoli are popular in NY.)  

·   1 bunch broccoli rape (about 1 lb.) 





The Sparaceddi 

Rinse the broccoletti in a sink full of water, repeat the procedure until all sand or dirt are eliminated and place in a colander to drain. 

Cut into 1” strip 

If broccolini are not available: 

To wash the broccoli rinse with cold water. Do not soak. Cut the floret from the stalk and chop into small chunks.  Set on the side.
To prepare the stalk, cut off and discard 1 inch from the end. Trim, peel and cut the tender part into thin slices. Set on the side in a container with water. 

To clean the broccoli rape, cut all florets and strip the leaves from the stem. Discard the stems and any withered leaf.
Cut the tender leaves into 1 inch strips. Wash a few times and place in a colander to drain.

The Condiments 

Over a high flame heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a small saucepan, sauté the garlic until golden. Remove skillet from heat, carefully add a few tablespoons of water and set on the side. 


The Pasta 

A pot of boiling water has to be kept on the side, because it may be needed in this preparation. 

In a large pot, bring 3 quarts of water and 2 teaspoons of salt to a boil. Place the broccolini in the pot, stir it cover and cook for 3 minutes. Add the pasta and continue cooking uncovered at a lower heat.  

If using broccoli and broccoli raab: 

When the water boils, drain the sliced stalk of the broccoli, place into pot and cook for 5 minutes.  

Add the remaining vegetables and the pasta; continue cooking uncovered at a lower heat.  


Stir occasionally and after a few minutes, check if more salt is needed, add black pepper to taste, and if you feel that the pasta is too dry, add some of the boiling water, to obtain the desired consistency. This pasta should be soupy but not too watery. 

 Pasta chi Sparaceddi

The Assembly
When pasta is done, remove from fire, add the assassunata (sautéed garlic) and drizzle the remaining olive oil. 
Serve the pasta in bowls and offer peperoncino, red hot pepper, on the side. No cheese is served with pasta chi sparaceddi.
In the eastern part of
Sicily, filets of anchovies are added to the assassunata condiment (the oil and garlic) and grated cheese or toasted breadcrumbs are served on the side.