Aida Mollenkamp described broccoli rabe: “ . . . think of it as a sexier alternative to broccoli – darker and a little bitter.” Really, though, all that broccoli and broccoli rabe have in common is the name.
Broccoli is a crucifer and broccoli rabe is one of those leafy greens that we get so many healthy brownie points for eating. And the rabe has a lot of different names; the most common nom de plum is rapini. Call it what you like, it’s great. It does take a bit of minor effort to prepare well: It is bitter, like most greens, and a quick blanching is all it needs to take that pungency away.
I was introduced to broccoli rabe by my sister who cooked it for my daughter and me one girls’ night in at my daughter’s home in Florida. Lynn also taught me how to make ravioli using won- ton wrappers. I love ravioli but don’t have a pasta maker (hint-hint) and this shortcut worked just fine. Our filling was butternut squash. A quick sauté in herbed browned butter and we were done.
I have to admit, though, that when she picked up the last of what looked like a pretty wilted bunch of rabe at the supermarket, I was suspicious. But after a dunk in ice water, it was brought back to life.
So when the same thing happened to me, I didn’t panic and grabbed the all-too-rare appearance of rabe at my local market. I made a quick apology to my usual broccoli, said I’d be back next week, and took my prize home. (It was on sale, too!)
I tossed my blanched and sautéed broccoli rabe with feta cheese, chickpeas and a little bit of leftover angel hair pasta, but the adornments are endless. Next time, I think I’ll use crushed red pepper and fontina.
Simple Broccoli Rabe
1 pound broccoli rabe
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
Place broccoli rabe in large pot of boiling water 2-3 minutes. Be careful not to over cook; it should be slightly hard. Drain the broccoli rabe then place it in a bowl with ice and water. Let it stand in the ice water while you heat the oil.
In a large skillet, heat the oil and garlic for 1 minute. Drain broccoli rabe really well and add to pan. Sauté for approximately about five minutes or until it’s as soft as you’d like it.
Then dress it up as you’d like, too: red pepper flakes, Parmesan cheese, chickpeas, feta, cooked pasta.