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JoNorvelleWalker

Help with Broccoli Rabe

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I have a love/hate relationship with broccoli rabe.  Please give me some ideas.  I usually either sautee it in olive oil or boil quickly in excess water.  How can I make broccoli rabe less bitter?  Or perchance bitterness is just the salient nature of broccoli rabe and I am out of luck.

 

Thanks!

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For myself, I don't find broccoli rabe bitter in the least - but I understand some folks do, like yourself, obviously. 

 

When you say you "boil quickly" do you mean you blanch it then discard the hot water/drain the broccoli rabe?  If so, that should remove at least some of what you find to be the bitterness - then one cooks it further in a dish?

 

Try using it in a pasta sauce - like here or here or here (scroll down) - or using sweet capicola instead, and/or sun-dried tomatoes and/.or omitting peppers, etc.  Perhaps the other flavors and tastes might balance out the bitterness for you.  Or use some mirin or sweet cooking wine to counteract what you find as bitterness.  

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Thanks.  By "boil quickly" I meant blanch, drain, and eat.  Possibly the best results I've had have been from blanch, cold shock in ice bath, dry, sautee.  I've also tried sauteeing without blanching first.

 

Unfortunately I did not find broccoli rabe from any of your three URL's.  Perhaps you could link the post rather than the page?  Last time I cooked broccoli rabe I served with hollandaise but it didn't help the bitterness.

 

 

Edit:

 

Duh, sorry, I found one of your broccoli rabe dishes here:

 

http://forums.egullet.org/topic/143989-lunch-whatd-ya-have-20122014/?p=1944657

 

However it looks like broccoli rabe is not a high proportion of the recipe.


Edited by JoNorvelleWalker (log)

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The links are to the posts.  Try refreshing/reloading the webpage for each link after the first load.  Yes, the broccoli rabe is a component in the overall sauce, although a major one.  The pasta would be the predominant component in the dish after everything is tossed together, as shown in the pics.

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Found the right dishes this time.  Not sure why I had a problem before.  Possibly because of downloading all the pictures the first time and now the pictures are in cache.  Or it may have been the gin.

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Jo, I'm puzzled.  Why are you trying so hard to like this vegetable?  Cuz, frankly, blanch then saute is pretty much as good as broccoli rabe gets.  If that doesn't work for you, ISTM you don't like it.  Which, of course, is okay.  No one is required to like everything.  And goodness knows there are plenty of other greens which don't have broccoli rabe's bitterness.  (I agree it's somewhat bitter, but for me that's a feature not a bug.)

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I like it for a few bites, but then after half a plate full I wish I hadn't started.  It is so pretty, though.  I thought there might be a secret to it.

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Try orecchiette with broccoli rabe and sausage. Maybe the additions of sausage, garlic and pasta will balance and tame the bitterness for you. Also, whenever I've been served broccoli rabe on its own it always seems to have been heavily salted which I don't care for but I assume that's to counter or distract from the bitterness.


Edited by natasha1270 (log)

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I have found that boiling in a copious amount of salted water for a few minutes (a little longer than quickly) and then into an ice bath followed by a pan saute with garlic, salt and pepper and a spritz of lemon juice on the plate does it for me. The bitter taste is left behind in the water and the flavor is great. It is even good cold the next day.

 

HC

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Bitter? broccoli rabe? What are you talking about?

 

Go to a Chinese or indian store and buy some bitter melons and find out what bitter really means. LOL!

 

Serious, it depends on season and where BR is from, bitterness varies.

 

BR was on sale last week here (NYC) $0.99 a lb, normally $2.75 a lb. They were so mild and tender, I must had gotten more than 10 lbs.

 

dcarch

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I like to cook it in chicken broth rather than plain water, then garlic/oil. Or sometime in a brothy dish. Its gonna be bitter no matter what.

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I've only had BR one time; it's hard to come by here and costly (probably why the stores don't stock it). Mine was not bitter at all, and I cooked it just as you described. I'm sure it just varies in bitterness.

Edited for spelling.


Edited by lindag (log)

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You could always try cooking it low and slow for an hour, in oil.

I have made this before, several times. While the bitterness doesn't really ever fully fade away, it does diminish somewhat.

http://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes/Cime-di-Rapa-Fritte

(I recommend using a fraction of garlic called for in the recipe; it will still be delicious without.)

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I like to season biter greens like raab and kale with both sugar and acid. Some options are blood orange, any citrus juice, mango chutney, honey, etc..  A little heat, like shirracha, also helps. And obviously don't forget the salt.

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Orecchiette and cime di rapa (translated in american english as broccoli rabe) are really typical from my area of origin and there the rape, because of the soil, are much bitter than the one a can find here. I love bitter vegetables though. So I'm not going to suggest some braised traditional recipes that make them even more bitter.

I would suggest you to use them in conjunction with food that will tame the bitterness, something traditional would be to use as stuffing for a focaccia Here, or to make a soup with beans Here

or if you make orecchiette with rape, usually people will use the same water to cook the rape and the pasta (adding the rape at the right time so they cook  with the pasta) but if it's too bitter for you, you can blanch the rape first and discard that water, boil fresh water and when the pasta is almost cooked add the rape to warm. Than  drain and saute with salted anchovies, garlic and hot peppers. Sprinkling with toasted breadcrumbs in little oil (in lieu of cheese which is not used in this dish) to me makes it even less bitter.

You can mix it with mash potatoes to make croquettes, or a sort of gatto' (from gateau). You can mix cooked cime di rapa with ricotta to make a filling for ravioli, or you can make a pancotto, maybe adding a potato to make it less bitter.

 

Other thing is cime di rapa the bitterness will be different according to season, definitely need like all cabbages is good when it's really cold, and buy before they flower. 

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I blanch broccoli rabe for about 1 1/2 minutes, and then have it with rhombi and hot Italian sausage.  I save some of the blanching water to add to the pot with the rabe and sausage when I add the pasta. I always out some peccorino romano on top. A chef on a cooking shjow I used to watch gave a brief lecture on bitter greens on one show.  Her point was that bitter greens are supposed to be bitter, and if you're going to cook them to the point where the bitterness is lost, then you should eat something else in the first place.

I also like stuffed bitter melon.  There used to be a Filipino Market where the owner went to NYC once a week and brought all sorts of things back to the So. Jersey wilderness including stuffed bitter melon.  I haven't had stuffed bitter melon since the owner retired.  I tried making it for myself once, but it was a lot of work, and not as good as what I used to buy at the market.
 

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So far my best experiment has been broccoli rabe and orecchiette, prepared by blanching the broccoli rabe before sauteeing with garlic, then adding the cooked orecchiette.  Sausage sounds like a nice addition, but it is not something I keep on hand.  I have anchovies however.

 

Next time I will try adding salt to the water to see what that does.

 

Franci, is there a flavor reason cheese is not used with orecchiette and cime di rapa?  Or is it just a matter of tradition?  Being an American I almost always use cheese with any pasta dish.

 

Broccoli rabe was on sale here for 99 cents a pound -- that's why I have a lot!

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Franci, is there a flavor reason cheese is not used with orecchiette and cime di rapa?  Or is it just a matter of tradition?  Being an American I almost always use cheese with any pasta dish.

 

Salted anchovies and rape have already a very strong personality, by adding cheese I doubt I would be able to taste them fully, too many strong flavors in one dish. By tradition in my area we would use cacioricotta (a sort of ricotta salata) on fresh tomato sauce, or some vegetables sauces, and pecorino with meat sauces. Although some pecorino is used with fish (like in tiella of rice potatoes and mussels, similar to some Spanish cazuelas rice dishes) in pastas with fish (anchovies) there is no cheese.

And the anchovies we get there are not the one I can get here, even the agostino recca I bought at Eataly are not that good. Good anchovies really make the dish.

Sausage and rape is more a Napolitean pairing in my mind (sausage and friarielli) and I can see people using cheese there.

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I also want to point out that Italian food (as Franci knows, but I was waiting for her to reply) is a collection of regional styles. Grated cheese isn't necessarily an automatic add-on to pasta, but there are exceptions to the rule. Besides fish/cheese, another dubious combination is mushrooms/cheese, but then you have dishes like insalata di funghi which some people garnish with shaved Parm-Reg cheese. When it comes to pasta, I have seen the technique of using fried breadcrumbs in place of cheese, particularly with southern Italian/Sicilian preps.

I want to say that there might be a food historical reason (like for instance, why fresh pasta seems to be more common in the north while dried is more prevalent in the south; why you frequently see dishes that feature cream/butter/dairy in the north as opposed to olive oil in the south) but I don't have the necessary sourcebooks on hand that would provide the proofs I need and so, don't fully feel comfortable making such an assertion.


Edited by SobaAddict70 (log)

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I want to say that there might be a food historical reason (like for instance, why fresh pasta seems to be more common in the north while dried is more prevalent in the south; why you frequently see dishes that feature cream/butter/dairy in the north as opposed to olive oil in the south) but I don't have the necessary sourcebooks on hand that would provide the proofs I need and so, don't fully feel comfortable making such an assertion.

 

I don't think fresh pasta is more common in the North (with a few regional exceptions: Liguria and Emilia) .  I was born and raised in Puglia but my mom is from Lombardia so I have a good sense of both. In my mother area fresh pasta is not that common (only in ravioli, like casoncei which was more  a weekend thing), they eat a good amount of rice and polenta still.  I have had way more fresh pasta  (orecchiette) growing up in Puglia.  When I was little, my  mother used much more butter in her cooking (like cooking eggs or steak in butter) something that is not a Southerner thing at all. In the last 20 years there has been a big change, for "health" reasons a lot of people in the North are switching to oil from butte\. You have olive trees in Puglia, Sicily and central Italy, you have pork and cows in Emilia and Piemonte. In my area we don't eat beef that much: it's lamb, baby goat, some pork and veal.  No Southerner will put butter in a tomato sauce or to saute' mushrooms.

Now in Italy,  Northern and Southerner traditions are getting more and more blurred: you can buy any kind of fresh regional pastas in vacuum packages in any supermarket. If you want troccoli, spaghetti alla chitarra, trofie or whatever are easy to find in the big towns. Less butter all over the place and more oil. A Northerner would rarely deep fry in extra virgin olive oil as a pugliese would do.  Sorry, I got out of topic. 

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I would probably pair the greens with something creamy and starchy to pillow the flavours a bit. I like mashed/pureed white beans with garlic, oil and lemon juice. You can either serve them alongside each other or boil the broccoli raab and then puree it into the beans. Good on bread or as an accompaniment to tuna or lamb.

 

You could also boil and then add to stamppot or bubble and squeak, or serve with scrambled eggs, and pork is the general friend of bitter greens, I'm told.

 

Maybe you could adapt the World's Best Braised Green Cabbage recipe by Molly Stevens (which I think is on member Kim Shook's website) for your broccoli raab, or else try cabbage balushka with it; noodles, cabbage and onions boiled in butter. My Hungarian ex-mother-in-law came over and horrified my austere family with her butter noodles when I got married!


Edited by Plantes Vertes (log)

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You can also use something strong to offset the bitterness.  An all-time favorite quick dinner is a thick slice of country bread with BR, blanched and then sauteed with some garlic, chile flakes and olive oil.  Put some very sharp cheddar cheese on top and then bake to melt.  Eat it all with a knife and fork.  The salty cheese cuts the BR and the bread serves as ballast.

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Thanks for all the suggestions!  I started with this recipe:

 

http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/white-beans-with-broccoli-rabe-and-lemon

 

Except I blanched and shocked the rabe before sauteeing.  I served the dish tossed with a plate of orecchiette.  Not at all bitter and very good.  The leftovers I plan to have with chicken mechoui that is marinating at the moment.

 

My only regret is I was not able to hold the bright green color of the rabe.

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We sometimes make it into pesto. There's a recipe in Mario Batali's "Molto Gusto" cookbook. It's basically blanching and shocking the broccoli rabe before using a food processor to help make a pesto from it. The one interesting addition is some dijon mustard to add back some of the pungency.  Someone put a copy of it online http://www.gather.com/viewArticle.action?articleId=281474978462925 I use the full amount of olive oil called for and usually use toasted walnuts instead of the pine nuts.

 

Another thing is to blanch and shock it but instead of sauteeing it in olive oil/garlic/etc., we make a garlic-infused olive oil, maybe with some crushed pepper flakes and then dress the broccoli rabe with it. (This can be refrigerated overnight and served room temperature.)

 

Jayne

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I usually eat broccolini or kai-lan rather than broccoli rabe, but I believe they are similar.

 

Most recently, I just blanched and sautéed it, and served with duck breast, mashed potatoes, and a cherry/port wine sauce (and roasted cherries). I used it because I wanted a counterpoint to the rest of the dish, but it went surprisingly well with the cherries.

 

But my favorite way to eat it is on pizza.  I blanch it ahead of time for a couple of minutes, dry it, and put it on the pizza before it goes into the oven. Either with a tomato sauce, mushrooms, spanish (dry) chorizo, and cheese; or with caramelized onions (in lieu of sauce), manchego, and parmesan cheese. 

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