I am having a fling. No, it’s not that kind of fling: I am enamored of broccoli rabe. It began with spending time over the holidays with a good friend who is obsessed with this cruciferous vegetable. After sharing a number of meals with her where rapini featured prominently, if not exclusively, on the menu, I had little choice than to be hooked. It was compounded by a weekly challenge at Food52 to create a recipe using broccoli rabe. That contest came and went, yet I find myself still cooking up a storm with my new best crucifer. My children are looking forward to the end of this infatuation.
I wonder what took me so long to discover broccoli rabe? Broccoli rabe, or rapini, is a member of the turnip family and is known for its assertive, bitter taste. Some of its bitterness may be removed by blanching it in salted water before cooking. However, while it’s an acquired taste, the bitterness is what distinguishes broccoli rabe and makes it a great match for bold flavors in hearty dishes, which suits me very well. Not only that, as a member of the crucifer family, broccoli rabe is nutrient-rich, packed with vitamins A, C, K, and potassium, calcium and iron. If you are going to overindulge (sorry kids), it doesn’t get healthier than this.
Broccoli Rabe, White Bean and Parmesan Soup
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon red chile flakes
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 lb. broccoli rabe, ends trimmed, washed, coarsely chopped
4 cups chicken stock
1 – 16 oz. can cannellini beans, drained
one 3-4″ chunk Parmegiano-Reggiano rind
Grated Parmegiano-Reggiano cheese for garnish
Heat oil in a large sauce pan. Add onion and sauté 2 minutes. Add garlic and chile flakes. Sauté one minute. Add broccoli rabe and salt, and sauté one minute. Add stock, beans and parmesan rind. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium low and simmer 20 minutes. Taste to see if extra salt is needed. Serve in warm bowls with 1-2 teaspoons grated cheese sprinkled over.