Broccoli rabe, broccoli raab, in Italian, rapini , cime di rape, broccoletti . No matter how you name it, this gutsy green is actually the above-the-soil leaves, stems, and flowers of a turnip relative. When prepared right, it’s delicious and really good for you too..But before I start to sound like a public service announcement or a spokesman for the American Broccoli Rabe Council , here’s my favorite way to prepare broccoli rabe:
1 bunch broccoli rabe
1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
2 large cloves of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
large pinch of red pepper flakes (or to taste)
3 anchovy fillets, rinsed and minced or pounded in a mortar and pestle
1/4 cup (preferably home made) bread crumbs
salt and pepper
– Trim the bottoms of the greens, and place in a deep skillet with about 3 cups of water and 3 or 4 big pinches of salt. Cover and bring to a hard simmer for about 10-12 minutes, or until tender.
– Drain and shock in cold running water. Drain again, and squeeze out most of the water. Chop coarsely,and set aside.
– Rinse and wipe down the skillet, set over medium low heat, and add the oil. When the oil is warm add the garlic, and lightly saute` for 3 minutes.
– Add the pepper flakes and the anchovy, and continue cooking until the anchovy begins to smell sweet – another 3-4 minutes.
– Raise the heat to medium and add the bread crumbs, and fry/toast them for about 3 minutes more. Add the greens, season well with salt and a bit of ground black pepper, and sizzle for about 5 minutes.
– Remove from the heat, stir in a good squeeze of lemon, and serve immediately.
I served the broccoli rabe alongside a few fried herbed lamb patties, and as a first course, egg tagliatelle with baccala`(had some leftover from a beautiful piece of the crystallized fish I had picked up at Victor’s Fish Market on Adams Street in Newark’s Ironbound section – highly recommended if you’re within reach) walnuts and scallions…the wine (notes below) was a bit awkward with the pasta, but more than made up the lost ground with the lamb and broccoli rabe.
The wine is made from a fairly rare (at least here in the U.S.) grape variety called Cesanese. Grown almost exclusively in the regions south of Rome called the Ciociaria, it is known to be a very old variety, evidenced in the fact that there are several subvarieties (d’ Affile, Olevano, di Piglio, Comune)
PRINCIPE PALLAVICINI ‘TERRE DI PALLAVICINI” CESANESE LAZIO IGT 2006
Very deep and dusky purple color with garnet highlights. immediate aromas of grape jelly, then black licorice, pie crust, myrtle, and a touch of wood smoke. In the mouth the wine is velvety in texture, with vinous flavors and sweet black currant fruit nicely framed by a discrete structure. Dark sediments suggest an only lightly or unfiltered style. Really surprised by the overall youthful nature of this value bottling considering that it’s pushing 4 years old.