Friday, February 18, 2011

Cooking with Linda - Broccoli Rabe

Broccoli rabe is my husband's and my favorite vegetable. We try to eat it about once a week. Our three sons don't like it, though I think they will acquire a taste for rappini as they mature. After all, they eat edamame!

one head of broccoli rabe
extra virgin olive oil
2-3 cloves of garlic
garlic powder
juice of one lemon
iodized salt
white cannellini beans (optional)

Sit down at the kitchen counter to prepare this vitamin-rich green, as it is time-consuming, at least for me. Cut off and discard roughly 2" of the hard, tough stems. Tenderize remaining stems by peeling the tough stem exterior or "skin" with a pairing knife then splitting them lengthwise, twice, so that the ends "flower."  My mother-in-law, a wonderful cook, taught me this trick. For ease of eating and incorporating this green into recipes, cut all stems and large leaves in half.  

Soak greens (split stems, leaves, florettes) in a large pot of water for ten minutes, agitating with tongs to remove any impurities. Drain water; replace with fresh, clean water. Soak again, and drain water in the sink in a large colander The one featured in this link is my favorite, the one I use several times a week.

Lay out a clean, dry dish towel on the counter top. Place two layers of paper towels on top of dish towel; using tongs, place wet broccoli on top of the toweling to absorb some of the water.
Over medium-high heat, saute 3 thinly-sliced garlic cloves in a few tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil.  I cook the broccoli in my favorite large stainless steel saute pan. It comes with a clear, tempered glass lid, which helps me keep an eye on the cooking process.

Place the greens into the sizzling oil and use tongs to turn so that all leaves, stems, and florettes are lightly coated in olive oil. Saute with lid on for about 7-8 minutes or so, until broccoli is tender and bright green. Season to taste with iodized salt, garlic powder, fresh lemon juice, and a teaspoon of "raw" extra-virgin olive oil. The combination of these flavors in unbelievably savory.

Rappini - Tenderized, Ready to Saute
Cooked & Ready to Eat
I use stainless steel tongs  (a favorite cooking and serving tool) for flipping while sauteing as well as for serving (one-handed tongs for buffet service works great...for salads, especially).

A Very Versatile Green One of our favorites is broccoli rabe combined with slices of boiled-then-grilled Italian sausage and orecchiette (little ears) pasta. We also enjoy broccoli rabe with white cannellini beans.  Simply add the canned and drained beans toward the end of the saute process, so the beans become warm and flavorful.

A versatile topper, broccoli rabe is delicious on top of a grilled chicken breast or Italian bread toasted in the oven with a sprinkling of olive oil and salt. Leftover broccoli rabe leaves, tenderized stems, and delicate florettes are delicious and nutritious in a sandwich in lieu of lettuce. Or, simply place it alongside a fresh Italian roll, your favorite cheese (we are fans of Asiago and Dubliner) and (as pictured below) portabella mushrooms with roast red peppers.
Satisfying Vegetarian Lunch
Carnival Glass Dish

Tip from Mom: Even if it's just for the two of you, always cook the whole head of broccoli...or the whole head of boiled cabbage or cauliflower. Leftover Andy Boy broccoli or broccoli rabe can be warmed up and used as a side dish for next evening's dinner.  Or, you may want to prepare the leftover vegetables in a new way by incorporating them into a favorite recipe.

~ Linda

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