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One (Really two!) new Med Recipes: Broccoli Rapa (also known as Rabe and Raab)

May 9, 2011

On Thursday night I had dinner at Via Matta with Frank Sacks of Harvard School of Public Health fame.  Our dinners were terrific (burrata with pickled onions and pollo al mattone for me, and grilled calamari and hake for Frank), but the star of the show was the broccoli rabe we ordered as a side dish.  I decided I need to know how to make it at home and went looking through my cookbooks for a recipe.  I couldn’t decide on one recipe, so I’ve made both.  The recipes come from two close friends who together offer cooking classes in Venice, California — Martha Rose Shulman and Clifford Wright.

Cliff’s recipe comes from his 2001 book, Mediterranean Vegetables. He notes that broccoli rapa is like a sprouting broccoli, but it is actually a relation of the turnip.  It’s also called turnip broccoli, rapini, sparachetti and cima di rapa.  It is popular throughout southern Italy, where it is often prepared with garlic and olive oil.  This dish from Naples is usually served at room temperature.  It is also a great accompaniment to grilled or roasted meats.  Cliff suggests keeping the broccoli rapa as green as possible by not overcooking it, and your presentation will look very delectable.

Broccoli Rapa a Crudo

1 quart water
1 1/2 pounds broccoli rapa
2 teaspooons sugar
2 tablesppoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 large garlic cloves, chipped fine
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1.  Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan and cook the broccoli rapa until the leaves are wilted and the stems are soft, about 12 minutes.  Drain well.  Dissolve the sugar in the vinegar in a small bowl.

2.  Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet and cook the garlic over medium heat.  Add the broccoli rapa, stirring the sugared vinegar and seasoning with salt and pepper.  Cook the broccoli rapa until it is soft and the vinegar is mostly evaporated, 5 to 7 minutes.  Serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings.

Recipe by Clifford Wright in Mediterranean Vegetables

Broccoli Raab with Garlic, Red Pepper, and Beans

Martha Rose Shulman’s recipe in The Best Vegetarian Recipes is an adaptation of a southern Italian dish.  As she says, beans and greens always marry well, especially in this garlicky, slight piccante dish.

1 tablespoon salt, plus more to taste
1 1/2 pounds broccoli raab, washed and tough stems discarded
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 to 3 garlic cloves minced
1 dried hot chile, seeded and crumbled, or 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 1/2 cups white beans with 1/2 cup of their liquid or one 15-ounce can navy or cannellini beans, drained and rinsed.

1.  Bring a large pot of water to boil while you prepare the other ingredients.  When the water comes to a boil, add 1 tablespoon of salt and the broccoli raab.  Boil for 5 minutes, until the stems are tender.  Remove 1/2 cup of water from the pot and drain the broccoli raab.

2.  Heat the oil in the large, heavy nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Add the garlic and chile.  Cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds, or until it begins to color.  Stir in the broccoli raab, the beans, and 1/2 cup of their liquid, or the liquid you retained from the broccoli raab.  Heat through, stirring, until the broccoli raab is well coated.

3.  Add salt and taste.  Do you need to add more?  Could it use more garlic?  Adjust the seasonings, remove from the heat, and serve.

NOTE:  Martha adds that this can be made several hours ahead of time and reheated gently.  The broccoli raab can be boiled and held in the refrigerator for a couple of days.

Recipe by Martha Rose Shulman in The Best Vegetarian Recipes


So, which one to choose???  I’d say they are different enough that you should do as I did…. make both!

-Sara

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