Saturday, January 30, 2010

Broccoli Raab

I just picked up my CSA box for the week and we got a nice selection, so I guess a lot of crops made it through the freeze ok. We got radishes (yum), a head of red leaf lettuce, flat leaf parsley, some fat, pungent green onions, a grapefruit, a tangerine, an avocado, broccoli and broccoli raab. I have plans for everything, but the broccoli raab.

Wow, I thought. Broccoli raab. What am I going to do with it? I've had it in Italian restaurants. I love it sauteed with hot Italian sausage and melted over pasta, usually orecchiette, which I can't resist because it means little ears and who wouldn't want to munch on tiny curled ears?

We've long since established that I love any food which is pink and hate anything which is bitter and dark green. Still, I've made exceptions for broccoli raab. Sometimes it isn't bitter.

I once saw Giada de Laurentiis on her show demonstrate how to remove bitterness from broccoli raab. She says you must blanch it in boiling water first and then rinse it off really well before sauteeing it and adding to your recipe. I guess that makes sense. I've done a little research and some people also think that adding some tang in the form of lemon or vinegar disguises it. For years I've heard that sweetness helps neutralize bitterness. One can see this figuratively and metaphorically more than literally. A spoonful of sugar after all.

If you find yourself unexpectedly with a bouquet of broccoli raab, as my fellow CSA members have this weekend, consider this article from the New York Times. It has some good advice and interesting recipes.

Or, you could just go pick up a package of hot Italian sausage and a a bag of orecchiette. Ricotta is nice on top and so are tomatoes softened in hot olive oil and garlic.

You could also sautee your broccoli raab with golden raisins and pine nuts. Caramelized onions would work with that and at the last minute, because I like everything spicy, I'd fling in some hot red pepper flakes. Maybe the lemon juice if it needed it too.

And so it seems, the reason I can't decide what to do is not because I have no ideas, but because I have too many.

What do you like to do with it?


  1. I'm in the garlic, olive oil and sausage camp myself. That's what I did with my broccoli last night. I don't think I'd use orecchiette, though. Since the traditional method cooks the broccoli (raab or otherwise) until it's falling apart, you want the al dente texture of dried pasta--ziti or penne are traditional with broccoli--instead of the softer texture of a fresh pasta like orecchiette. At least I do.

  2. All pasta is good, but in the restaurants I've been going to lately they always have the orecchiette with the broccoli raab and sausage for some reason.