Friday, March 18, 2011

Broccoli Rabe? No Way!

I love greens…turnip greens, mustard greens, collard greens.  I like them the way my mom, Granny and Grandma Nix fix them, cooked long and slow with some bacon or “streaked meat” (or fatback).  And the BEST part is pouring the pot liquor over cornbread!  It makes me hungry just thinking about it now!

On one of our visits to New Jersey I came across another green I’m fond of…Broccoli Rabe (Rapini).  It was sautéed with olive oil and garlic and it was so good.  Now, that has been a few years ago and I’ve had it a couple of times since on our trips to New Jersey.  I come back from those trips with a renewed energy to find Broccoli Rabe in a local grocery store.  EVERY week I search the produce to see if there is, by chance, the broccoli rabe I’m looking for and EVERY week I’m disappointed.  EXCEPT last week!  The words had just left my mouth “Maybe one day they will actually have broccoli rabe” when right before my eyes…there it was.  I could not believe it!  Nick immediately got out the cell phone and called Liz and Ang to find out how best to fix this elusive green. 

Now, you have to understand that I went into the grocery store with my list which detailed the ingredients for a nice Baked Ziti but that was all gone once I saw the broccoli rabe.  The menu immediately changed and I was so happy!  I was SO happy that it threw my whole psyche off and it took us FOREVER to get through the store because I just could not concentrate…thank goodness Nick understands (as best he can) my quirkiness.

We ended up fixing Broccoli Rabe with Sausage and Rigatoni…YUUUMMMYYY!!!  It was wonderful.  I actually blanched the broccoli rabe before I sautéed it and I probably would not do that again.  I was referencing a recipe I found online but I don’t think it needs to be blanched.  And the sausage left a little to be desired, it’s hard to get good italian sausage in the mountains of Northeast Georgia.

Here’s the recipe I came up with (including the blanching).  You can add the sausage or leave it out; I think it would be great without it.  I probably won’t blanche the broccoli rabe next time; I will just sauté it a little longer to make sure it’s not too bitter.

Broccoli Rabe w/ Sausage and Rigatoni

1-Bunch Broccoli Rabe (about a pound), cleaned
3-Cloves of Garlic, sliced
1-Pound Sweet Italian Sausage (can use links but remove from casing before cooking)
1-Pound Rigatoni, cooked al dente
2-3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
½ Cup of Chicken Stock
½ Cup of Pasta Water
Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes

Remove the long stems from the broccoli rabe and blanch in salted water for about 2 minutes.  Remove from hot water and place in ice water until cool.  Remove from ice water and place on kitchen towel and pat dry.  Set aside

If using link sausage, remove from casing and crumble into large frying pan.  Cook until done then remove from pan onto a plate lined with a paper towel to absorb some of the grease.  Set aside.

Add olive oil to frying pan.  When oil is hot add garlic and red pepper flakes.  Sauté garlic until lightly brown then add the broccoli rabe to pan.  Sauté for 2-3 minutes then add the chicken stock.  Sauté for 2-3 more minutes then add the sausage, broccoli rabe and pasta water.

Serve with grated Romano cheese and nice crusty bread.
Broccoli Rabe (Rapini)

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