Posts Tagged ‘broccoli rabe’


You know you are never too old (or too thin or too rich) to discover something new.  At the Saturday farmers market in New York City’s Union Square Greenmarket I found an odd looking green which was identified at Spigarello broccoli.  I, of course, had to buy it, but not before I grilled the “farmer” about it.  Turns out that although it was new to me, it has been around for centuries and in Italy it is known both as cima de rapi and spigariello.  It is thought to be the stock from which broccoli rabe has morphed.  It can be used raw or cooked much like all winter greens.  I can report that it is neither as tough nor as astringent as many greens – we found it quite bland.  I trimmed the tougher stalks as the farmer suggested, and then stacked the leaves and cut them, crosswise, to make nice shards to spinkle on pasta or in one case on a summer vegetable tart.  I can’t say that we couldn’t live very nicely without ever tasting it again, but if I see it, I would certainly buy it and use it for its milder taste and lovely color.

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In our house, pasta rules.  We know it shouldn’t – that all those carbs don’t help the waistline, but nonetheless we have to have a warm bowl of the starchy stuff at least twice a week.  BUT, and this is the big BUT, we almost always have it mixed up and tossed with some type of healthy veggie.  Steve’s favorite is broccoli rabe, but it might be almost any other bitter green, just plain broccoli, a simple marinara (see my post of July 13, 2010), or whatever – we also love pasta with beans – cannellini or borlotti or you name it, we’re happy to mix it up.

My idea for pasta with broccoli rabe is very simple.  Of course, you have to have a big pot of boiling, very salty water going in which to cook your pasta.  Heat a good amount of spicy extra virgin olive oil in a large sauté pan.  Add a healthful amount of sliced garlic, some chili flakes and about a ½ cup stock (chicken or veggie) and bring to a simmer.  Simmer for about 5 minutes or just long enough to soften the garlic.  Add one bunch of broccoli rabe – well-washed, trimmed of tough ends, and chopped.  Season with salt and pepper, cover, and simmer, tossing and turning every few minutes, for about 12 to 15 minutes or until the rabe is wilted and tender.  Grate in the zest of about ½ lemon and sprinkle with a bit of fresh lemon juice.  While the rabe is cooking, you should have your pasta cooking and ready to go.  Drain the pasta, reserving about ¾ cup cooking water.  Return the pasta and water to whatever pan you cooked it in.  Add the broccoli rabe, scraping every bit of it into the pasta.  Add a good handful of grated cheese, toss to blend, and serve with more grated cheese on the side.  Easy and delicious!

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