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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.

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