~ Broccoli Rabe, Sausage and Three Cheese Pizza ~
Broccoli Rabe is like kale. If I can get my kids to eat it, then I win. I’m a huge fan of broccoli rabe, also known as rapini. While it resembles a spindly, leafy version of broccoli, rapini is actually a member of the turnip and mustard greens family, which accounts for its peppery and bitter flavor. And, like kale, rapini is a nutritional powerhouse, a rich source of vitamins A, C and K, and folate, calcium and potassium. The key is to get my family to eat it. And I think I’ve figured it out.
The first trick is to blanch broccoli rabe in salted boiling water, which will remove excess bitterness. Then briefly saute the dried stalks in olive oil with garlic, salt and red pepper flakes (everything tastes good with garlic and salt, right?) At that point the rapini is good to go as a simple side dish. But in this case I’ve taken it a step further, scattering it over pizza oozing with 3 cheeses and spiced with crumbled Italian sausage. The combination of salty, cheesy, spicy toppings perfectly balances the peppery rapini. My family gobbled it up. I like to win.
Broccoli Rabe, Sausage and Three Cheese Pizza
Feel free to use your favorite store-bought pizza crust dough. Makes one large rectangular pizza, about 10 x 15-inches
1/2 pound broccoli rabe, washed, ends trimmed
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 large garlic clove, minced, plus 1 garlic clove lightly smashed but still intact
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, plus extra for sprinkling
3/4 pound Italian sausage, casings removed, crumbled
1 pizza crust dough (recipe below)
6 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
1/2 cup grated Fontina cheese
1/2 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
Rosemary sprigs for garnish
Place pizza stone on lowest rack in oven. Heat oven to 475 F (240 C). Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add broccoli rabe and blanch just until bright green, about 30 seconds. Drain immediately and plunge broccoli rabe into a bowl of ice water to cool; drain again. Lay stalks in one layer on a kitchen towel and blot to thoroughly dry. Cut in 2-inch pieces.
Heat one tablespoon olive oil in skillet over medium heat. Add minced garlic and 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes. Sauté briefly, 30 seconds. Add broccoli rabe and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Sauté until slightly limp, 1 minute. Transfer to a plate. Add 1 tablespoon oil to the same skillet. Add sausage and saute over medium heat until cooked through, breaking up large pieces with a spoon. Transfer with a slotted spoon to another plate lined with a paper towel.
On a large piece of parchment paper, roll out pizza crust to about 10 x 15-inches in size. Lightly brush crust with olive oil. Rub all over with smashed garlic clove. Arrange one layer mozzarella cheese over crusts. Sprinkle with fontina. Scatter sausage and broccoli rape over the pizza and sprinkle with pecorino. Season with freshly ground black pepper.
Slide parchment with pizza onto pizza stone in oven. Bake until crust is golden brown and cheese is bubbly, about 15 minutes. Slice and serve warm with extra crushed chili flakes for sprinkling.
Pizza Dough Recipe
Makes enough for 2 large crusts
2 teaspoons dry yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup semolina flour
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cups cold water
1/4 cup olive oil
Stir yeast and lukewarm water together in a bowl. Add 1/4 cup all-purpose flour and semolina. Mix well. Let sit until bubbly, about 30 minutes. Combine remaining flour and salt in another bowl. Add to yeast with cold water and olive oil. Mix well to form a dough. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead with hands until dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Or use a mixer with a dough hook, and knead about 5 minutes. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl and turn to coat all sides with oil. Cover bowl loosely with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 1 to 2 hours. Punch dough down, and let rise another 45 minutes. Divide dough into 2 equal disks (or 4 if you would like small pizzas.) Let rest 30 minutes before shaping.