I didn’t see it coming. Not at all. Since the move back east to Philly, I’ve fallen in love.
What you say? With who? No, no – you have it all wrong. Not who – what.
You see, for whatever reason, broccoli rabe did not make it to the midwest – at least not where I lived. Don’t know why. But I can tell you in the 11 years that I lived there broccoli rabe never made an appearance at a farmers market or a super market. Not once.
Oh but now – now it’s everywhere I go! First it started on an innocent trip to one of my favorite places – the Reading Terminal Market. A simple lunch to try the infamous pork sandwich at DiNics. In case you’re not familiar, you have a choice of getting the sandwich
with or without greens. Well, duh, why would you get it without? But wait. It’s not just greens.
I have to say broccoli rabe nestled together with provolone and roast pork really is quite delicious. However, it doesn’t stop there. I began seeing broccoli rabe on restaurant menus, at super markets – I can’t resist it. It seems anytime I see it I must get it.
So what’s the big deal about broccoli rabe? Well for one, the taste. I won’t lie, if you’re not a fan of sharp, bitter vegetables like cabbage, mustard greens or Brussels sprouts, you will probably not be a fan. But, if you enjoy those vegetables you will surely enjoy this one! The first time I prepared it at home I roasted it – super simple with olive oil and salt and pepper. The next time, I sautéed it and paired it with pasta. Oh boy – I found a new winner with this recipe.
But wait – let’s talk a minute about what broccoli rabe can do for you. Like arugula and those cute little cabbage sprouts , they’re part of the cruciferous family. Remember glucosinolates? No? Hmm, well, okay – they’re the unique phytochemical that gives off that pungent aroma and gives it that spicy, bitter taste. And – it’s what gives them cancer preventing potential. But wait – it doesn’t end there! This amazing vegetable can also help improve your eyesight, maintain and repair your skin, and help prevent birth defects.
So this vegetable has a lot going for it. Oh, and depending where you’re at, broccoli rabe is also called rapini, rabe, rappone, rappi, or Italian turnip – just to name a few. Just look for bright green leaves with broccoli-like buds clustered in the middle and you know you’ve found my love.
How do you like to prepare broccoli rabe?
- 1 lb. small shaped pasta such as orecchiette
- 2 bunches broccoli rabe, chopped into 2 inch pieces
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 lb. Italian sausage, removed from casings
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons miso (optional)
- 1-2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
- salt and pepper to taste
- Heat a large pot of water. Once it comes to a boil, add chopped broccoli rabe and blanche for 1 minute. Remove from pot with tongs and place in a bowl filled with ice water. Don't get rid of water!
- Bring to boil again and cook pasta 2 minutes less than stated on package instructions.
- Meanwhile, in a large pan add half the olive oil and brown the sausage.
- When sausage is almost done, add the rest of the olive oil and onion. Cook for a few minutes until it begins to soften.
- Once onion is softened, add garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook for a few minutes.
- Using a ladle, scoop out some of the pasta water and add to pan with sausage. Scrape up an bits from bottom of pan.
- Add miso if using and parmesan cheese. Stir to dissolve miso.
- Add broccoli rabe and cooked pasta. Stir to combine and cook 2 minutes.
- Add about another ladle full of water if needed.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve with additional grated parmesan cheese on the side.
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