(Dear readers, I have obviously taken a 4 month hiatus from blogging. I spent a lot of time cooking, but little time writing about it. Hopefully, winter will encourage you to spend some time in the kitchen & me to spend some time writing about all the cooking I just did.)
In case you were wondering, it’s pronounced “Broccoli Rob,” like a Veggie Tales character, but this one is actually a vegetable. It’s a combination of broccoli and kale, but more interesting (if you’re a bit tired of broccoli & kale.)
If you’ve never tasted it before, my imaginary kitchen friend and actual author Harold McGee describes it thusly in On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen:
Broccoli rabe, slender stalks topped with a small cluster of flower buds, is unreplated to true broccoli. The name is a corruption of “broccoletti di rape,” or “little sprouts of turnip,” and refers to a variety of turnip that bears somewhat thickened flower stalks along its main stalk. Broccoli rabe is notably more bitter than true broccoli.
So, for the last final weeks of our CSA, we received lovely bunches of said vegetable and I was able to try some new recipes!
My favorite is Broccoli Rabe Pizza with Hazelnut Dough from Martha Stewart Living’s October 2010 issue. You can find the original recipe here, but I made a few simplifications and combined the pizza & dough recipe, below.
The easiest, though, was Ditalini with Pesto, Beans, and Broccoli Rabe from the October 2002 (10 years ago!) issue of Bon Appetit. Visit the link for the original recipe, or follow my adaptation (below) because I’m guessing you don’t have ditalini in your cupboard. (I never do!) And you can use WHATEVER type of pesto you have. I had some oregano pesto I’d frozen on hand, so I used that.
Broccoli Rabe Pizza with Pesto, Beans, and Broccoli Rabe
At least 2 hours before you want to eat, start the dough.
3 T. olive oil
1 C. warm water (about 110 F.)
2 1/4 t. (one envelope) active dry yeast
2 1/2 C. flour (perhaps a combination of all-purpose, and whole wheat bread or pastry flour)
1/2 C. toasted/roasted & ground hazelnuts
1 T. finely chopped fresh sage
1 1/2 t. table salt
Lightly oil a medium bowl. Stir together water & yeast in a large bowl. Let stand until foamy. Stir in oil. Add flour, hazelnut meal, sage, and salt. Stir until dough forms. Turn onto a floured surface and knead until smooth.
Extended notes about dough: if you have a stand mixer, you can also mix & knead the dough in the mixer. That’s what I did.
Do you have questions about how to knead bread? Look for videos on You Tube. However, I do have a warning. There’s a tendency for people to add too much flour to their dough, which will cause it to be dry and crumbly. A wetter dough (within reason) will result in a better bread. Look at the following books for great instruction & technique about making breads.
Laurel’s Kitchen Bread Book by Laurel Robertson
My Bread by Jim Lahey
End of note about dough…the recipe continues.)
Transfer dough to an oiled bowl, turning to coat. Cover with a tea towl & set in a warm, draft-free place (or in your oven if it has a proofing setting) until dough has doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
When the dough is ready, preheat the oven (on convection, if possible) to 500. Blanch 2 small bunches of broccoli rabe in a pot of salted water until tender; run under cold water & drain. Toss 3 cups of the broccoli rabe with 4 T. olive oil, 1 red onion (sliced very thinly) and 2-4 pinches crushed red pepper flakes.
Spread cornmeal on two small baking sheets or 1 large pizza pan or cookie sheet. Stretch or roll dough to fit the sheet. (It’s OK if it’s not a perfect circle. I always call my pizza “Amoeba Pizza,” which is what I would name a pizza restaurant if I opened one. But Justin says that no one would visit a restaurant named after a single-celled organism that lives in the water. He’s right, I’m sure.)
Drizzle dough with oil and arrange broccoli on top. Bake until crust is golden brown and cooked through, 12-20 minutes depending on your oven. You can sprinkle 1/2 C. Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese on the pizza for the last few minutes of baking OR wait until you pull the pizza out of the oven as the original recipe recommends.
This serves about 4, if you also have a salad.
Pasta with Pesto, Beans, and Broccoli Rabe
1 box (12 oz.) textured pasta, such as rotini
1 lb. broccoli rab, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 C. broth (chicken or vegetable)
1/2 t. crushed red pepper
1 15-oz. can cannellini (white) beans, rinsed & drained
1 scant cup pesto
1 T. white wine vinegar
Parmesan cheese (optional)
Cook pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water for the time indicated on the package. When the pasta has 5 more minutes of cooking time, add the broccoli rabe. Cook until the pasta is tender but firm to the bite and broccoli rabe is crisp-tender. Drain, reserving 1/2 C. cooking liquid. Return to the pot.
Meanwhile, bring vegetable broth and red pepper to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Add beans and simmer until they are heated through, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes.
Add bean mixture, pesto & vinegar to pasta and broccoli rabe. Stir well, adding pasta liquid slowly if necessary. Season with salt & pepper. Serve in shallow bowls, garnished with Parmesan cheese (if you so desire.)