I figured I'd post this today to celebrate the fact that we have broccoli rabe coming up in the garden as of yesterday. Yay!
I love the slight bitterness of broccoli rabe. Food can't, and shouldn't, always be sweet or salty. The bitterness creates a nice balance of flavors on the plate. I like to serve it alongside strong-flavored dishes like beef or lamb...or salmon...or coq au vin. Okay, I like it with anything.
And here's all I do.
First, get a bunch or two of broccoli rabe from the grocery store, or harvest all you can from your garden (if you're growing it. if you have a garden.) Rinse it well, cut off about 2 inches from the stem end (if they're the big bunches from the store) and then chop the rest of the rabe into about 3" lengths, more or less. Set that aside.
Dice up some pancetta
(or bacon, if you can't get pancetta...I've also used prosciutto. You could use ham, too, probably. Something porky and salty, basically.) and put it a hot pan,
stirring occasionally, until it renders its fat and gets darker and crispy. Remove the pancetta and add a bit of olive oil and some peeled, crushed (but no sliced or minced) garlic
to the pan, stir it around, and leave the heat on low to medium low. You want the fat and oil to absorb some of the garlic flavor. (I also like to use roasted garlic sometimes for a sweeter garlic flavor.)
After the garlic has started to turn golden, add in your broccoli rabe (you can remove the garlic first, if you wish),
turn the heat up to medium, and put a lid on the pan to trap the heat and wilt the rabe. You may need to move the rabe around a bit so the bottom layer doesn't stick to the pan.
I take the lid off the pan once the wilting starts, and I try not to cook the rabe too far past that point, so the green color doesn't start to go gray.
I also like to squeeze some lemon juice over it.
To serve, I just pass around a block of parmesan and a grater so people can add cheese to it if they'd like. You can also add the garlic and pancetta back in if you'd like.
Pretty easy, right?