A few weeks ago I tried Broccoli Rabe for the first time at a local restaurant and was pleasantly surprised by its slightly bitter taste. It was very simply cooked but quite addictive.
Cooking geek that I am, I came home and immediately googled it.
I figured it would be healthy as most green leafy vegetables are.
I was happy to see that is was #6 in the Whole Foods Market Aggregate Nutrient Density Index for green vegetables- which means it’s very healthy.
I also wanted to know what are the standard ways of preparing it. I like to learn the basics before I start adding my own twist on recipes.
The overwhelming recipe that popped out was a very simple pasta dish called “Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe.”
Orecchiette is basically this small ear shaped pasta made with with just durum flour and water, no eggs.
The recipes were pretty similar across the board: Orecchiette pasta added to broccoli rabe which has been blanched quickly and sautéed with olive oil, garlic and dried red pepper flakes. Most versions add some grated parmesan cheese as well. I added Grana Padano instead, which is very similar to parmesan but a slightly milder taste. This pasta is tasty enough that you can easily omit the cheese and turn this into a vegan dish.
Here’s how I made it, based on a recipe from Williams-Sonoma.
8 oz broccoli rabe
8 oz orechiette pasta
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, diced
1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes (add more if you like spicy dishes)
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup grated grana padano cheese (or parmesan) (To “veganize” skip the cheese or use a non-dairy alternative like “daiya” cheese.)
Heat water to boiling in a large pot. Cut the broccoli rabe, removing any tough stems. Add to the boiling water for just a few minutes to blanch. This apparently removes some of the bitterness.
Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan. Add the garlic cloves and red pepper flakes.
Add the broccoli rabe. I just used a slotted spoon and added it directly from the pot to the sauté pan (with the garlic and red pepper flakes) and cooked for just a few minutes more.
Meanwhile, add the pasta to the boiling water (that the broccoli rabe was cooking in). Cook per package directions- about 12-13 minutes.
Add the cooked pasta to the broccoli rabe mixture. Salt and pepper to taste.
Add the grated cheese.
Mix well and serve.
Hope you enjoy it. Let me know how it turns out.