Braised Broccoli Rabe
I’m not really sure what I was thinking when I included “Under 15 minutes” as a possibility for last week’s poll. I mean… what complete meal takes less than 15 minutes to make? Boxed macaroni and cheese? Popcorn?
So I’m glad you guys picked the Under 30 minutes option. It gave me a bit more to work with.
In fact, it gave me a lot more to work with. It gave me just enough time to work with some broccoli rabe.
Speaking of broccoli rabe, I have a really hard time writing or saying it without thinking of Andy‘s a capella group on The Office. He had a friend in the group who’s nickname was Broccoli Rabe and for some reason I find this incredibly hilarious.
Anyway, back to making a delicious dinner…
Braised Broccoli Rabe
Yield: Serves 4-6.
1 pound (or bunch) of broccoli rabe, blanched and chopped
1 pound round pasta like campanelle or orecchiette
3-4 cloves garlic
1 Teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 Tablespoons olive oil
4 cups vegetable broth
2-3 cups water
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted
Salt and pepper
1) Chop off the tough stems of the rabe. I usually cut off about 2-3 inches of stems.
2) Blanch rabe in boiled, salted water for about a minute. Drain rabe and run under cool water. Roughly chop the rabe.
3) In a large pot, add oil, garlic, red pepper flakes, and rosemary. Set over low to medium-low heat for 4-5 minutes until it's very fragrant.
4) Remove rosemary sprigs and add vegetable broth and water. Turn up heat and bring to a boil.
5) Add pasta and rabe, cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes (depends on pasta cooking time... add a few minutes to time on box). Make sure the braising liquid is almost or slightly covering the pasta and rabe. If not, add more water.
6) Meanwhile, lightly toast walnuts in a dry pan.
7) Serve pasta and rabe with walnuts and maybe a dash of hot sauce.
Roughly adapted from Eating Well in Season
Dealing with the Rabe
Broccoli rabe isn’t a common ingredient for most people I would guess. For this reason, it happens to be pretty cheap.
Have no fear though, it’s actually really easy to cook despite it’s strange broccoli hybrid appearance.
Chop off some of the larger stems on the rabe. I usually chop off about 2-3 inches of stems.
Then dunk them in boiling salted water for about a minute. This will blanch the the greens and really bring out their bright green color. It’ll also make them a bit easier to work with!
Once they come out of the boiling water, run them under cold water to stop the cooking and then roughly chop them up. Big pieces are good for this recipe since they are going to cook a second time.
This is a quick braised dish. Really you’re just braising the rabe while you are cooking the pasta.
It does help though to have a really flavorful braising liquid. Besides vegetable stock, which is the base, these three ingredients will go a long way to giving us some really awesome flavors.
In a large pot over medium-low heat, add a good drizzle of olive oil along with your garlic, red pepper flakes, and rosemary. Keeping the heat low will give the garlic and rosemary time to really flavor the oil. If you turn up the heat too high you’ll run the risk of burning the garlic.
After about 4 minutes of cooking on low, remove the rosemary sprigs and go ahead and add the vegetable stock and water to the pan. Turn the heat up at this point and bring the braising liquid to a boil.
When it comes to pasta, any pasta that would be good in a pasta salad would work here. I went with a campanelle which is a fun and relatively quick cooking pasta.
Once your braising liquid is boiling, add the pasta and broccoli rabe to the pot. Give it a good stir and check the level of your braising liquid. You want the liquid to be just barely covering, or slightly under is fine, the pasta and rabe.
If you need to, feel free to add more water to get your braising liquid to this level.
Put the lid on this and let it simmer for about 15 minutes (check your pasta cooking time and add a few minutes onto it). Stir the pasta every few minutes to make sure it’s cooking evenly.
Believe it or not, almost all of the liquid will be absorbed by the pasta. What’s left of the broth will be reduced to this delicious silky sauce.
This was my finished pot.
The original recipe for this dish called for chopped walnuts as a topping which I thought was pretty weird. I figured I’d try it out though and guess what: I was wrong.
The walnuts really kind of made the dish. I think you could use a lot of different nuts (pecans would work), but having something crunchy as a topping really helps.
Anytime you’re using nuts in a savory dish like this, it’s always a good idea to toast them in a dry skillet for a few minutes until they are fragrant.
Besides the walnuts, I also topped my dish with a few dashes of hot sauce.
This dish makes a lot of food and it’s really pretty healthy. It would be a fantastic lunch dish for the week.
OK. I’ll admit it though. This dish really took me closer to 35 minutes to make. Come on though… Give a guy a break!