Friday, November 20, 2009

Food/Broccoli Rabe

One of my favorite comfort foods is broccoli rabe. Like dandelion greens and arugula, it’s an acquired taste (as my husband will attest). But I grew up with these dark and distinctly flavored greens and I love them. They grew in both my grandmothers’ gardens (one in the middle of the city and one in rural upstate New York) and I remember eating them often as a child—plucked fresh, rinsed off under the outside faucet and sauteed quickly in olive oil with slivers of garlic.

When my mother was first diagnosed with ovarian cancer and I had flown to Florida on a few hours’ notice to be with her, I returned from the ICU on that first day to her home in Palm Beach Gardens, exhausted, overwhelmed and hungry. Waiting for me was my mother’s sister, Aunt Kay, standing at the stove with wooden spoon in hand. She had cooked up a pot of broccoli rabe—we called them “robbies”—and served them with a loaf of crusty bread. It was exactly what I needed.

Here is how I prepare them:

1 bunch of broccoli rabe
2 large peeled cloves of garlic
Olive oil
1/2 cube of vegetable broth
1 cup water

  • Rinse the broccoli rabe, trim off the stems and chop the leaves and florets into 2-inch pieces.
  • Slice the garlic thinly.
  • Film a heavy saucepan with olive oil and heat on medium high.
  • Add the broccoli rabe and stir, coating the greens with the oil.
  • When the greens are slightly wilted, add the garlic slices and continue to stir for about 1 minute.
  • Add the water and vegetable cube, stirring to dissolve.
  • Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cover.
  • Simmer for 5-10 minutes, checking to make sure that liquid does not evaporate.
  • Serve with crusty bread to soak up the juices.

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