Broccoli Rabe ‘Contorno’

I’ve traveled Italy from Venice to Sicily and everywhere in between, and I have taken notice of a few cultural differences that set us apart. The most prevalent is the enjoyment of their meals. The Italians don’t prepare foods and keep them warm under lights. It is made and served fresh or looked upon as old leftovers. Artificial food colors and GMO’s are banned in most of Europe. Therefore, the food tastes and looks healthier and fresher. It is worth it to buy a airplane ticket to Europe just to experience their delicious, fresh meals.

In addition, food enjoyment can become an all day activity. Some formal gatherings will have 10 courses set out one by one. The course I have prepared for you here is the vegetable side dish, or contorno. It is course # 5 in the Italian Meal Structure.

Broccoli Rabe is known in Italian cooking as Rapini, or even Manestra, and it offers so many health benefits we should eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

  • Increased Immune Function
  • Protection from Dementia
  • Antioxidant Protection
  • Slowing Aging
  • Osteoporosis Defense
  • Promoted Eye Health

In addition to the health benefits, it makes a delicious accompianment to many dishes. I have tried pizza with brocolli rabe and sausage and it was the most delicious pizza I ever tasted! (and the pizza was vegan and dairy-free)

Here’s a little tidbit of information you probably weren’t aware of. Broccoli Rabe isn’t even Broccoli! It may be closer related to the Turnip and it’s famously nutritional top, the Turnip Greens.  These great vegetables are best cooked twice, as they tend to start out bitter. My recipe for Broccoli Rabe was taught to me by my Italian Mother-in-Law and when I serve this delicious and nutritious vegetable, it is all eaten. Try it now during the premium autumn harvest, you can’t go wrong!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 bunch of Broccoli Rabe
  • 6 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 3-4 cloves of minced fresh garlic
  • 1 tbsp of sea salt in a 1/2 pot of boiling water
  • polenta flatbreads

 

Wash and trim the ends off of the Broccoli Rabe and discard. Cut it into 3″ pieces and place in the boiling water for up to 5-10 minutes, draining well in a collander even applying gentle pressure to squeeze out more of the water.

In a large skillet over very low heat, add the Olive Oil,  and minced garlic. As it is beginning to cook, add in the drained Broccoli Rabe and if you like, some crushed red pepper flakes or a little more salt and pepper to taste. If you like more Extra Virgin Olive Oil, add in.

For maximum ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’, display on a tower of pre-made polenta crisps ⇒  Boil 2 c. lightly salted water and pour over 1 cup of cornmeal to pre-soak for 8 hours. When the polenta is absorbed, flatten out a few onto parchment paper, and place in the oven at 325° for 5-10 minutes until crispy.

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