Grabbing the Gusto

Deirdre Reid – Freelance Writer & Home Cook

I often find myself in the supermarket with a shopping list that says “green veg.” This lack of specificity means I didn’t look in my laptop’s folders: Recipes/Make Next/Sides/Vegetables and Recipes/Cookbook/Sides/Vegetables . Why are you snickering? Doesn’t everyone have folders like that? Nor did I look at my bookmarks, Google Reader’s food blog subscriptions, magazines or cookbooks. I don’t have a vegetable plan, arggh!

I stand there in the produce aisle scanning the bins. Ah, broccoli, there you are, my old friend. I imagine a later conversation, “Yes, honey, we’re having broccoli again tonight, it’s good for us, and it was on sale.” He knows how I like a sale. But, it’s true, we both make broccoli far too often.

Sometimes I resist broccoli’s call and make my way over to a different section of produce where I spot my beloved’s Italian cousin. Although more expensive than his popular relative, broccoli rabe charms his way into my cart.

Also known as rapini, broccoli rabe has a stronger and more bitter taste than broccoli. With smaller florets, thinner stalks and more leaves, it’s a completely different eating experience, one that I prefer.

This recipe from the Simply Recipes blog has been my go-to broccoli rabe preparation since I found it. The sweetness of the onions contrasts with the bitterness (in a good way) of the broccoli rabe. If you take the time to blanch the broccoli rabe first, you’ll preserve its bright green color.

broccoli rabe recipe food writer raleigh

Broccoli Rabe with Caramelized Onions

You’ll need a large pan, large pot with lid, large bowl for ice bath, slotted spoon or colander, clean dishtowel or salad spinner

  • Olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced
  • 1 large bunch of broccoli rabe, rinsed and cut into 2-inch long pieces
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Option: sun-dried tomatoes

Heat oil in a large pan on medium heat. Add the onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and golden, about 10 minutes. If the onions start to dry out, lower the heat (you can add a little water to them too.) They should get golden, but not dried out.

After you start the onions, if you plan to blanch, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water — about 1 tablespoon of salt per 3 quarts of water. Prepare an ice bath — a large bowl filled halfway with ice water. Add the rabe to the boiling water. Blanch (boil) for 1 minute. Use a slotted spoon to remove the rabe from the boiling water or dump into a colander (my preference). Then immediately put the rabe into the ice bath to stop the cooking – this also helps preserve its bright green color. Drain the rabe again. 

Once the onions are golden, add the chili flakes and garlic, cook one minute. Add the broccoli rabe and mix the ingredients together. If you’re using sun-dried tomatoes, add them too.  Cook on medium heat until most of the moisture is gone and the rabe stems are tender.

Original recipe: Broccoli Rabe with Caramelized Onions, Simply Recipes

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