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Our new favorite vegetable

I am married to a serious “meat and potatoes” man. His meal is incomplete if it doesn’t include protein and he will let me know about the error of my ways. I’ve stopped trying to sneak vegetarian meals to him (Why fight a losing battle, right?), and instead focus on finding vegetables that he will eat and creative ways to serve his favorites.

A bunch of broccoli rabe

A bunch of broccoli rabe

Broccoli rabe (aka rapini, broccolini, or raab) is one veg that I’ve been dying to try for quite some time, lover of all things pasta that I am. It’s a relative of broccoli and turnips; it looks like a cross between broccoli and mustard greens. Since hubby will not eat broccoli, I was hesitant to try it, but he does like greens, so I thought it was worth a shot. Our bunch had edible flowers on it, as well, which was great for the kids–they needed no enticement.

Broccoli rabe has a very strong flavor, which tastes as you might expect: like broccoli. Only more pungent. Some people think it has a bitter taste, but I didn’t think so. Pungent? Yes. Bitter? No. It goes well with pasta or beans; I sauteed mine with garlic (a lot of garlic), red pepper flakes, and onion in olive oil before adding in some rotini and chicken stock. And for the meat lover? Sliced italian sausage. The dish came together beautifully; the girls really enjoyed it and cleaned their plates.

One note, however: when searching for recipe ideas, I found that most called for a blanching step prior to sauteeing the rabe. I took a chance and threw the raw rabe right into hot oil. My thought was that the stock would do the job the blanching would, and it would add another depth of flavor as well. Here’s the finished dish:

Broccoli rabe with italian sausage and rotini

Broccoli rabe with italian sausage and rotini

I’m a huge fan of chef Lidia Matticchio Bastianich. If you’re not familiar with her cookbooks or her PBS show, read about her here. Her cooking style is all about quality and simplicity, and it was with this in mind that I purchased not just the rabe but also the most expensive pasta ever…DeCecco. I about peed my pants when I saw the price, but it was worth it. Best. Pasta. Ever. If it’s carried by your local grocery store, try it. It’s worth it.


Why I love teriyaki (migrated)

I love teriyaki. Absolutely love it. It’s easy to make, stands up well to any type of protein, is extremely adapatable and kids really like it. There are plenty of teriyaki joints in Seattle (I think it was invented here, LOL) and there are so many variations. The flexibility is what I enjoy most; if I’m out of one ingredient I can always find a substitute in my pantry.

Here’s my basic teriyaki sauce recipe. Use it with chicken, beef, pork, salmon, halibut, or tofu; whatever you like, really. A thought: I’ve never tried it with lamb. Hmm.

2 cups tamari or soy sauce
1 cup pineapple or orange juice
1/2 c packed brown sugar or equivalent amount of Splenda
Red pepper flakes or Cayenne pepper to taste

That’s it! My basic recipe. I also like to add any or all of the following, depending on my mood:

  • chopped fresh ginger
  • sesame oil
  • garlic
  • Hoisin or Oyster sauce
  • fish sauce

Note: using Splenda not only cuts calories and carbs, but imparts sweetness without burning during cooking, as sugar will. Don’t like Splenda? Use stevia, agave, or whatever floats your boat. It’s all good.

Combine all in a plastic bag large enough to hold your chosen protein. Marinating is essential, but not for too long; 30 minutes is enough. Any longer, and the citric acid in the juice will begin to “cook” the meat, resulting in a mushy texture.

Cook your protein according to your preferred method; for our dinner last night I baked bone-in chicken thighs. Reserve a bit of the marinade, too. It’s great on either rice or noodles–but be sure to bring it to a boil first–want to make sure any bacteria from the protein are taken care of.

I also prepared a stir fry of red and yellow peppers, green onions, and chinese cabbage. This is the part the kids enjoy the most–Mom wielding a sharp knife with such colorful vegetables! Mo was allowed to scoop out the seeds and pith from the peppers; and she also scooped out the coconut oil for the wok. I boiled some japanese soba noodles, added them to the veg, and threw the reserved teriyaki in as well—delish!