I crave broccoli rabe. Like seriously crave it. As in coffee in the morning crave it. I could probably eat it every day of the week and never grow tired of it. I've never really thought about why I crave it so much until now.
I'm a firm believer in paying attention to your cravings. Your cravings tell you a lot about what your body is asking for. So let's break this down.
First, what in the world is broccoli rabe? It kind of looks like a cross between broccoli and kale. It's actually related to a turnip, which incidentally is one of the few vegetables I don't really care for. It has a peppery, bitter flavor which I love, but some might find over the top. If you don't like cooked Southern greens, you might not care for broccoli rabe. But I still want you to give it a try.
Second, what are the nutritional benefits of this beautifully bitter plant? Well, broccoli rabe is actually considered a super food due to its abundance of potassium, iron, calcium, lutein, and its astronomical amounts of vitamins A, C and K. No wonder I crave it!
I usually just steam or saute broccoli rabe with a little salt and pepper. Toss it in a bowl of brown rice, tofu or Beyond Meat "chicken" and call it a meal. However, sometimes you have to dress up the ordinary and that's what this recipe does.
My Balsamic Broccoli Rabe with Piquante Peppers recipe is tangy, bitter, sweet, and has a lovely undertone of heat to it from the red pepper flakes. It's a great way to introduce someone to this nutritious vegetable and get them hooked on it. It's quick and easy and is the perfect side dish to an everyday meal or a fancy dinner.
Make sure you wash your broccoli rabe well before starting. Cut off a few inches from the end of the stalks as they can get woody like asparagus ends.
Next get your garlic peeled and sliced and your piquante peppers sliced. A quick word on piquante peppers. These are those short stubby peppers you often see marinated in vinegar and olive oil at the antipasti or olive bar in the grocery store. You can also find them in a jar, but look for ones with no or few preservatives. Regardless, they are sweet and delicious and add so much to this recipe.
Saute the broccoli rabe with a little olive oil, water, salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes for a few minutes.
Add the garlic and piquante peppers and saute for another few minutes. Make sure you are stirring this often—I actually like to use one of those large pasta spoons with the spokes. Add your balsamic vinegar and a little more water, cover and reduce your heat to simmer and gradually soften the stalks of the broccoli rabe.
Add a little more water to cook longer if needed and remove from heat when the stalks are your desired tenderness. Serve immediately!
Kale or even broccolini would both be good replacements if you really don't care for broccoli rabe. If you've ever tried broccoli rabe and didn't like it, I encourage you to try it again in this recipe. The flavors are so good and the sweetness of the balsamic vinegar and piquante peppers really calm the natural bite and bitterness of the broccoli rabe. Enjoy!
Time: 20 minutes
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 bunch of broccoli rabe
3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. corse ground pepper
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
7 piquante peppers (olive bar marinated variety or Peppadew jared), sliced
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
3/4 c. water, divided
Rinse your broccoli rabe and cut a few inches of the stalk off. Shake off excess water.
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat and sauté the broccoli rabe, 1/4 c. of the water and the salt, black pepper and crushed red pepper for about 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the sliced garlic and piquante peppers and cook for 4 minutes, again stirring frequently. Add the balsamic vinegar and another 1/4 c. of the water, cover the skillet, lower the heat and cook for 3 minutes. Uncover, add the last 1/4 c. of water, stir and then cover and cook for a final 3 minutes.
Serves 4 (or one if it's for me).