Sometimes a cookbook is valuable for information and technique, in addition to actual recipes. Barbara Kafka’s Vegetable Love is one of those books. Case in point: broccoli rabe. Referred to as broccoli di raab in this cookbook.
I’ve used broccoli rabe for years in one way or another. We like it sautéed with garlic on grilled bread. It’s also wonderful with Italian sausage and pasta. My normal routine has been to blanch the broccoli rabe before using it in a sauté. This seems to cut the bitterness. I recently learned a new technique from Barbara Kafka’s cookbook that eliminates that step. She suggested sautéing chopped broccoli rabe in olive oil and garlic for a few minutes. Then adding a half cup of water, covering the pan and simmering for about 15-20 minutes until the stalks are tender.
Using that technique as a start, I made the following dish:
- I removed the leaves and buds from the thick stems of a bunch of broccoli rabe, chopped them into manageable pieces, and sautéed them, along with some chopped onions, in olive oil laced with minced garlic and a bit of red pepper flakes, salt and freshly ground pepper. Following the new technique, I added a half cup of water, covered the pan and simmered the broccoli rabe for about 15 minutes.
- At this point, I added about a half pint of grape tomatoes and about a quarter of a pound of kielbasa that I had in the refrigerator. Italian sausages would have been ideal, but we didn’t have any. Using up leftovers seemed like a good idea.
- In the meantime, I boiled a few handfuls of orecchiette in salted water, and added the pasta to the broccoli rabe mixture. I added a bit of the salted pasta water to loosen things up. A sprinkle of Parmesan, and dinner was ready.