What are tenerumi and how to cook them

If you are familiar with the Sicilian cuisineyou have surely heard of pasta with i tenerumi. As with many traditional country recipes, there are several versions for this first course too, all claimed to be original. So there are those who prepare it soup with tenderizersin a slightly soupy version, and who prepares it dry pasta with tenerumi. It is not necessary to choose because both versions are very tasty and are also good for health and the planet. But let’s find out everything about the tender ones.

What are tenders

When we talk about tenerumi we mean le leaves of the snake courgette o elongated zucchini. These are soft leaves with a velvety texture and a light green color. Along with the leaves are the stems which are smooth and stringy. Usually, tenerumi are only found in Sicily precisely because they are considered waste material and because, let’s face it, they are not very quick to clean.

What are tenerumi called in Italian

Well yes, the word tenerume is a dialectal version to indicate, as we said above, the leaves of the elongated courgette. This zucchini, also called pergola courgettegives this vegetable which is commonly called tender because of its tender and delicate texture.

The seasonality of tenerumi

Being the leaves of this particular species of courgette very common in Western Sicily, the tenerumi are also harvested between June and October. You can find them in all the fruit and vegetable shops in this area and with no effort you will also find them on the menus of local restaurants. It is a real delicacy and, once tasted, you will wonder how this product can be discarded and thrown away.

How to keep tenders

Tenerumi, like all green leafy vegetables, can be kept in the refrigerator for 3/4 days. Place them in a paper bag or free in the refrigerator drawer. Once cooked you can also freeze them, but in this way they will lose part of their characteristic flavor and above all their high nutritional properties. Better to eat them freshly cooked.

Calories, nutritional values ​​and properties of tenerumi

In addition to being delicious, tenerumi are very good for our body. Think they contain only 11 kcal per 100 g of product. They are therefore highly recommended in low-calorie diets. In addition to their low caloric intake, tenerumi are very easy to digest, are rich in fiber and a portion contains numerous vitamins and mineral salts such as:

  • Potassium
  • Magnesium
  • Phosphorus
  • Zinc
  • Ferro
  • Soccer

How to clean tenderizers

Even if it’s a somewhat long processknow that cleaning tenders is very easy. So take this moment of relaxation to clean these vegetables in the best possible way and then bring them to the table with a certain satisfaction. To clean the tenders you will need a simple small kitchen knife.

First, remove any yellowed or damaged leaves. Also remove the leathery stems leaving only a small part, the one attached to the leaves. Now grab the part of the stem attached to the leaf and with the help of the knife start to defibrate going up towards the opposite end of the leaf. Proceed like this until all the leaves are stripped of the leathery parts.

Be careful not to eliminate flowers and buds, these are tender parts, particularly tasty and without the stringy part. Once the cleaning of the tenders is finished, proceed with the washing.

Wash the tenerumi thoroughly by soaking them in cold water for a few minutes and then rinsing them thoroughly under cold running water. Then drain them well and proceed with their preparation.

How to eat tenerumi

I tenerumi they cannot be eaten raw, to consume them it is necessary to cook them. Here are some ways to eat tenerumi.

Keep me oil and lemon

Once the tenerumi have been cleaned and washed, put them in a large saucepan and cover with cold water and a pinch of salt. Bring everything to the boil and bring to a boil. Boil the tenerumi until they are soft. Drain them and dress them with extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice. Serve them as a side dish for fish, meat or egg dishes. These boiled tenerumi are excellent both hot and at room temperature.

Sauteed tenders

Proceed as with the previous recipe. Once the tenerumi have been drained very well from their cooking water, toss them in a large, very hot pan where you have previously sautéed a clove of garlic in oil. If you like, you can add a few anchovy fillets and, if you like, a little chilli pepper.

Pasta with tenerumi

Also known as soup with tenerumi, this first course is rather moist and practically in broth despite being a summer dish. You can then serve it hot, but also at room temperature. To prepare pasta with tenerumi for 4 people you will need:

  • 240 g of spaghetti
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 400 g of peeled tomatoes
  • 300g of tenerumi
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Sale
  • Pepe


To prepare the pasta with tenerumi, start by frying the garlic clove in a pan with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. At this point add the previously crushed or diced peeled tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper and cook over low heat for 20 minutes. In the meantime, clean the tenerumi as previously indicated and cut the leaves into coarse pieces. Boil the tenerumi in plenty of boiling salted water and in the meantime break up the spaghetti to get the right size for a soup. Boil the pasta together with the tenerumi. In the meantime, the cooking water will have reduced slightly (if it is still too much, remove it, you will have to obtain a first course in broth). Turn off the heat when the spaghetti is cooked, add the peeled tomato sauce and serve.

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