Many people go through life hating certain vegetables just because they haven't eaten them cooked properly. Take brussels sprouts. Up until recently they've been almost a joke vegetable, making otherwise adventurous palates cringe. But most folks have only eaten them painfully overcooked, mushy, or even stinky sprouts. Broccoli rabe also gets a bad rap, oftentimes overly bitter and woefully over or undercooked. Even the best broccoli rabe from the farmers' market will taste terrible if not made properly.
Luckily, Marco Canora, author of Salt to Taste, has a recipe for Broccoli Rabe with Chiles and Garlic where the broccoli rabe stems have a great bite and crunch, the florets are sweet and vegetal, and the chile and garlic add an earthy spiciness.
When shopping for the freshest rabe, look for dark green stems and leaves with florets that have not yet bloomed. When cooking the rabe, Canora advises to separate the leaves from the stems and blanch them both separately, this way the leaves won't overcook while the stems are softening.
Another important point to remember: blanching doesn't mean cooking through, it's merely the start of the process.
The final cooking happens in the pan with a garlic- and chile-infused olive oil. To infuse the oil, add the chiles and sliced garlic to the pan with the cold olive oil, gradually heating it up. Then add the rabe and sauté until just cooked through; season with some salt and pepper.
This blanch and sauté method might add a few extra steps but it's worth the extra time. The broccoli rabe will taste exactly the way it should.
Win Salt to Taste
As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Salt to Taste to give away this week.
- 2 bunches broccoli rabe
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Pinch of minced pepperoncini or red pepper flakes
- 1 large garlic clove, peeled and sliced
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Trim the broccoli rabe by cutting off the bottom of each bunch and then separating the leaves from the flower-topped stems. Snap off and discard the thin stems attached to the leaves.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Plunge the leaves into the boiling water. When the water returns to a boil, remove the leaves from the pot with a slotted spoon, cool them in ice water, then drain them well in a colander. Add the stems to the boiling water and cook until almost tender, about 2 minutes; then take them out of the pot, cool in ice water, and add them to the colander to drain.
Combine the pepperoncini, garlic, and oil in a large skillet and warm over low heat. When the garlic begins to color, about 2 minutes, add both the broccoli rabe leaves and flower-topped stems to the oil. Gently warm the rabe in the garlic infused oil just until the stems are tender, about 5 minutes. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper and serve.