Something wonderful happened in the past five years, even in the big chain supermarkets: broccoli raab (or rapini) burst on the scene, and we don’t consider it an alternative to traditional broccoli as much as a distinct option on its own.
Let’s take a look at how Alice Waters prepares it with—as usual—a simple, honest approach that emphasizes freshness and flavor.
Our thoughts turn to Ms. Waters also because in one week she and Wellness Warrior founder Deborah Szekely will be at the International Spa Association’s 25th annual conference, where Deborah will present Alice with the ISPA/Alex Szekely Humanitarian Award for 2015, honoring her work on her Edible Schoolyard Project.
Here’s the Waters recipe from Chez Panisse Café Cookbook (1999 HarperCollins Publishers: $25.20). Most home cooks will be intrigued by the way she separates the cooking of the raab itself from releasing the aromatic qualities of the garlic and red pepper via a separate step, then combining all at the end.
Serves 4 to 6.
3 bunches broccoli raab, about 2 pounds
Extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Red pepper flakes
Red wine vinegar
Wash the broccoli raab and chop the leaves and sprouts coarsely. Heat a large sauté pan and coat the bottom of the pan with olive oil. Add the broccoli raab, season with salt, and cook over high heat, tossing frequently, until the raab starts to brown a little. Reduce the heat, add a splash of water, and cook until tender, stirring frequently. When the raab is cooked, remove it from the pan and set aside. While the pan is still hot add a drizzle of olive oil, the garlic, and a generous pinch of red pepper flakes; warm briefly. Add the cooked raab, a splash of red wine vinegar, and toss. Correct the seasoning. Serve hot or at room temperature. Variation: add pounded anchovy and/or chopped olives to the cooked broccoli raab. Serve at room temperature as part of an antipasto platter.