Broccoli Rabe for a Chilly Night
Growing up in New York City, I was friendly with the family who owned the famous Italian restaurant, Sal Anthony's. In the summer they would let us work odd jobs in the kitchen. The chef would always teach us little dishes to make as we peeled vegetables and helped wash the dishes. This is my favorite one of those lessons, and it's my family's most requested dinner. Super simple, easy and hauntingly delicious like so much of Italy.
Broccoli Rabe has a unique taste that some describe as bitter, but I find it addicting. If you prefer, you can parboil it for a few minutes before proceeding with the sauté instructions below, or substitute regular broccoli or broccolini. Often we add halved cherry tomatoes to give a bit more body to the sauce and some color to the plate. Serve this over pasta, using some of the pasta cooking water to extend the sauce a bit, or use it as a the perfect side dish for meat.
Broccoli Rabe with Garlic and Oil
- 2 heads broccoli rabe, roughly chopped, thick bottom stems discarded
- 3-4 cloves of garlic (to taste) finely chopped
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1-2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
- 1-2 cups of cherry tomatoes, halved (optional)
- Grated Parmesan cheese (to taste- we use a LOT)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Place chopped broccoli rabe in a colander and rinse under cold water. Set aside leaving water remaining on the leaves.
- In a large skillet with deep sides, heat the olive oil over medium heat until shimmering and add the chopped garlic, stirring gently, until softened, then add the red pepper flakes.
- Just before the garlic begins to brown, add the damp broccoli rabe to the skillet, one handful at a time. Stir and continue to add handfuls until all of the broccoli rabe fits in the pan. You may have to stir it a bit as the bottom begins to wilt, to allow for the volume of broccoli rabe to fit into the pan. When you've got it all in, put the lid on and lower the flame slightly.
- After a minute or two, open the lid, story and turn the rabe, and replace the lid. Do this two or three times.
- Once all the broccoli rabe has wilted down, add a 1/2 cup of water to the pan.
- Lower the heat, and let the mixture simmer and cook down for about 15 minutes, adding a bit of water as needed, to keep the mixture moist.
- When the rabe has softened completely, you can stir in the halved cherry tomatoes if you're using those. Stir in tomatoes and cook for another 2 minutes. If you're serving this with pasta, ladle in two cups of the pasta cooking water and stir to combine for a minute or two, then toss the hot pasta in the pan with the broccoli rabe.
- Add salt, pepper, and parmesan to taste, and serve.
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