By Himanee Gupta-Carlson
Did you know that broccoli rabe is actually not broccoli at all?
Yes, it is true. A web site run by the Stono Farm Mark in South Carolina notes that this interesting vegetable is actually more like a turnip than broccoli. It does, however, belong to the Brassica family of plants, as do turnips and broccoli, which gives it some similarities with its sturdier, thicker, curly headed cousin.
Broccoli rabe also goes by the names of rapini, broccoli raap, and broccoletti. It can grow from early spring through fall, but in our area tends to show up more at the Saratoga Farmers’ Market in May and early June, as well as late fall. It is loaded with vitamin C, and contains beta-carotene, fiber and phytochemicals.
So what does one do with this vegetable? Well, it depends on one’s tastes. Pattie Garrett, a Friends of the Market member and author of the My Saratoga Kitchen blog, notes that broccoli raab tends to carry a bitter taste, which requires “a recipe strong enough to tame it.” Mark Bittman, former food writer for The New York Times, concurs somewhat, noting that “broccoli raab can take whatever you throw at it and still shine.” I personally like it bitter so I rinse it, chop it and sauté it in a simple preparation of olive oil and that other early spring wonder, ramps. Here are a couple of other recipes that take advantage of broccoli raab’s strong flavor, turning it into a gourmet delight:
Spring Vegetables Featuring Broccoli Rabe with Farro
(See Pattie Garrett’s article at http://www.mysaratogakitchentable.com/?p=494 for more on this recipe)
Author: adapted from Cook’s Illustrated
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, minced
1/ ½ cup whole farro, rinsed
2 cups vegetable broth
1½ cups water
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
2 cups broccoli rabe, trimmed and in 2 inch lengths
3 garlic cloves, minced
1-15 ounce can white beans or navy beans, rinsed
½ cup oil packed sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1. Heat 1 Tablespoon oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook until softened and lightly browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in farro and cook until lightly toasted, about 2 minutes. Stir in broth and water and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to low and continue to simmer, stirring often until farro is just tender and remaining liquid has thickened into creamy sauce, 20 to 25 minutes. Take off heat and stir in ½ cup Parmesan cheese.
2. Bring 4 quarts of water to boil in Dutch oven. Add broccoli rabe and 1 tablespoon salt and cook until just tender, about 2 minutes. Drain broccoli rabe and transfer to bowl.
3. Wipe the Dutch oven dry, add remaining 1 Tablespoon oil, garlic and cook over medium heat until fragrant and sizzling, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in drained broccoli rabe and cook until hot and well coated, about 2 minutes. Take off heat and stir in beans, farro mixture, and sun-dried tomatoes.
4. Position oven rack 6 inches from broiler and heat broiler. Pour bean-farro mixture into 3 quart broiler safe casserole dish and sprinkle with remaining ½ cup of Parmesan cheese. Broil until lightly browned and hot, 3 to 5 minutes.
Calories: 426 | Fat: 10 | Saturated fat: 3 | Carbohydrates: 61 | Sodium: 509 Fiber: 13 | Protein: 21 | Cholesterol: 12
Spaghetti With Broccoli Rabe, Toasted Garlic and Bread Crumbs
(Mark Bittman, http://cooking.nytimes.com/)
½ cup extra virgin olive oil, more as needed
3 or 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and slivered
1 cup bread crumbs, preferably homemade
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
About 1 pound broccoli rabe, trimmed and washed
1 pound spaghetti, linguine or other long pasta
Freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it. Put 1/4 cup olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. When oil is warm, cook garlic just until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add bread crumbs and red pepper flakes and cook until bread crumbs are golden, 5 minutes or so. Remove and set aside.
2. Cook broccoli rabe in boiling water until it is soft, about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon, drain well and chop. Cook pasta in same pot.
3. Meanwhile, add remaining oil to skillet over medium-low heat. Add broccoli rabe and toss well; sprinkle with salt and pepper. When it is warm add garlic and bread crumbs and mix well.
4. When pasta is done, drain it, reserving a little cooking water. Toss pasta in skillet with broccoli rabe mixture, moistening with a little reserved water if necessary. Adjust seasonings and serve with freshly grated Parmesan.