Do you have a list of vegetables you wished you liked but don’t? You know, the ones that are really good for you and everyone seems to be raving about? Well, I get it. It wasn’t long ago I secretly detested rapini — aka broccoli rabe.
It started with my farm share. I loved it when we lived in the mountains. It was a perfect counterpoint to a short growing season. Out-of-this-world fruits and veggies grown less than 60 miles away, where it was still an alpine climate but not nearly as snowy. True foodie inspiration. Cooking with rapini being one of them. But this is where the success story ends. I was defeated with each attempt. Until I found this recipe.
Here’s what you need:
- 1 big bunch rapini
- olive oil
- 1 chopped onion
- 3 cloves minced garlic
- 1 to 2 pinches red pepper flakes
- fresh ground sea salt
- fresh ground pepper
- 1 or 2 chunks Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese rind
- 2 cups home cooked cannellini beans or 1 15oz can
- whole wheat country bread
- freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Here’s what you do:
- Coarsely chop rapini leaves separating from stems. Pull off or cut any tough fibers from stems and finely chop the keepers. Throw stems and leaves into a bowl of water or your salad spinner to wash.
- Heat about 2 tablespoons olive oil in your soup pot and add onion. I add a half pinch red pepper flakes and a small amount of fresh ground salt and pepper then stir.
- Cook onions until translucent — about 5 minutes.
- Add garlic and a pinch or more of red pepper flakes. Stir and let simmer for another minute or longer.
- Stir in greens with stems and 1 teaspoon salt. Toss until gently wilted.
- Add 5 cups water and 1 to 2 chunks parmesan cheese rind. (If you’re like me you have extra parmesan rinds that might be too tough to eat but perfect for flavoring soup. Now’s your chance to use them.) *Note — the first 6 steps take about 15 minutes.
- Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Add beans. Simmer for 15 minutes.
- Before serving cut thick slices of bread and toast. For quick results use your toaster. When serving dinner consider toasting in the oven with a drizzle of olive oil.
- Place your country bread in a bowl and top with freshly grated parmesan followed by your mixture of greens, broth and beans. If you’re a garlic lover, add extra garlic now.
- Season with salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, olive oil and parm to taste.
This recipe takes about 30 minutes to prepare. I’ll often make it at lunch and while I’m in between steps — soup is simmering, etc. — I do the morning dishes and make lunch. Then turn the heat off, enjoy the aroma and relax knowing I have two meals in one. *Makes 6 to 8 servings.
Be prepared for a rich, slightly bitter yet light flavor all at once. That’s what I love about this dish. It wakes your senses up and is delicious during any season.
*Adapted from a Deborah Madison recipe.