Wednesday, March 15, 2006

I Got Raab-ed, Yo!

I’d seen this curious plant before, labeled rapini, sitting humbly in the produce section. Long, leafy greens were tied in bunches, with the occasional cluster of broccoli-like florets peeking out. With no earthly idea of what it was, or how to use it, my intention to indulge in some research had generally dissolved between the harried check-out lines, and the ride home.

Then, Alanna from A Veggie Venture threw down the gauntlet with her month-long celebration of all things broccoli rabe. If, like me, you've not been keeping up with the cognoscenti these days, it's actually pronounced broccoli “rob”.


Determined to join in the festivities, I searched through epicurious until a particular sandwich caught my eye: a provolone and broccoli rabe panini. Score!

Having the foresight to do a little research this time paid off: broccoli raab goes by a plethora of names, not the least of which is broccoli rabe, rapine, brocoletto and choy sum. You may have guessed that it is also known as ‘rapini’, which is precisely how I found it.

Contrary to what the name implies, it is in no way related to broccoli: it's actually a relative of the turnip family. The leaves look very similar to turnip greens, while the broccoli-like florets are dappled with small, yellow flowers. Flourishing famously in Mediterranean and Chinese cultures, it's still a bit of a curiosity stateside.

Not after today. Cooking it up was effortless. A quick wash, chop, and plop in boiling water, and I was ready to sauté. Just as the garlic hit the pan with a sizzle, I realized that there wasn’t a single winsome anchovy to be found in the kitchen. I added a bit of Worcestershire sauce and an extra crack of salt to the pan; thinly sliced leftover pork tenderloin stood in for that little extra panache, and then, pure panini-making fun ensued.

The sandwich was a delightful mélange of flavours, and the raab proved itself to be a natural partner for the sharp provolone. The taste was somewhere between broccoli and spinach, but with a delightful, slightly bitter edge, softened by just a hint of nutty sweetness.

Ay, now that’s the raab!

PROVOLONE AND BROCCOLI RABE PANINI

adapted from epicurious

1/2 lb broccoli rabe, tough ends discarded
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½-1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
salt, to taste
1 (8- to 9-inch) sliced (1/4 inch thick) fine-quality round Italian loaf
2 Tablespoons roasted red pepper paste
1/3 lb sliced provolone

In 4-quarts of boiling, salted water, cook raab uncovered until tender, no more than 3 minutes. Drain well, wring out excess water with tea towel, then coarsely chop.

In heavy skillet over medium heat, sauté garlic in half the oil until just golden- add raab, Worcestershire sauce, and a pinch of salt, stirring for about a minute.

Heat panini grill according to instructions. Brush the outside slices of two pieces of bread with half the remaining oil (or use an olive oil sprayer). Spread half the roasted red pepper paste on inside of two slices, place half the provolone on bottom slice, half the raab mixture, then cover with top, oiled side up. Repeat with remaining ingredients.

Place in panini grill and cook until browned and crispy, about 8 minutes.

Makes 2 sandwiches.

s’kat’s notes: I also added some thinly sliced cooked pork tenderloin to this, but it would have been just fine without. And since I had some extra cheese left, I put it on top of the raab as well- it may have been the perfect leaf-to-cheese ratio.

13 Comments:

Blogger MeBeth said...

Wow - do you have a panini maker? I would love one, but kitchen space doesn't permit. Instead, I have to smush my sandwiches with a cast iron skillet and a teakettle.

March 15, 2006 5:29 PM  
Blogger Alanna said...

You MADE my day, s'kat!! Isn't it great? I'm a new convert myself but am putting it into everything!!

BTW I'm starved and your gorgeous panini isn't making the wait til supper any easier!!

March 15, 2006 5:37 PM  
Blogger Ellen said...

Gotta love that broccoli "rob". I usually saute it in olive oil, with lots of garlic. But after seeing it in your post, I will try it in a sandwich (gluten-free for me). Added your blog to my link list. Love your writing.

March 15, 2006 11:50 PM  
Blogger vlb5757 said...

Hey, now I can try a new veggie because I know has eaten it and lived to tell about it. I am always a bit leary about trying combination veggies. They scare me a bit. I am wondering if they were birthed in a petry dish or mother nature. The sandwich looks fabulous!

March 16, 2006 1:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

http://www.ivu.org/hrv/hrvfar.htm hampton roads community supported agriculture

March 17, 2006 2:00 PM  
Anonymous Tania said...

And here I was pronouncing it "broccoli rab-ay"! Thanks for the correction, and for the yummy-looking recipe.

You have a great blog, by the way; I just can't believe I've not found it before!

March 17, 2006 11:41 PM  
Anonymous bea at La tartine gourmande said...

Looks delicious, I will definitely remember this recipe!

March 19, 2006 2:11 PM  
Blogger eatdrinknbmerry said...

S'Kat, great photo of the sandwich - looks tasty. I like broccoli rabe sauteed simply with garlic and evoo. Healthy!

March 20, 2006 3:32 AM  
Blogger iamchanelle said...

i have been seeing broccoli "rob" recipes everywhere and have been greatly intrigued! thanks for clearing things up a bit. and giving me something new to buy...er, try! (a panini maker? must have one!)

March 20, 2006 10:08 AM  
Blogger Mona said...

you rabe snob you ! ha:) that's the only word i could think of that rhymed with rabe. that sandwich looks excellent. i wouldn't have thought to put rabe in a sandwich but i'm liking the sounds and looks of it. mmm!

March 20, 2006 11:27 PM  
Blogger s'kat said...

MeBeth, I sure do, and I'd be lost without it! I'm sure the cast-iron method is just as effective (if slightly less convenient)!

ak- thanks for enlightening me about this splendiferous cruciferous!

ellen, thanks so much for popping in!

Vicky, you too can do it!

Anon, thanks for pointing this out- what a cool resource!

Tania- don't tell anyone, but that's how I was pronouncing it, too! And welcome!

Bea, hope you give it a shot!

edbm- Simplicity is sometimes the best way.

iamchanelle- yes, you MUST have a panini maker! They're so much fun.

Mona- HA! It could be my new handle. ;)

March 21, 2006 8:38 AM  
Anonymous Rich said...

I am new to the area. Does anyone know where I can buy Rapini here in the Hampton Roads area?

June 08, 2007 3:37 AM  
Blogger s'kat said...

Rich- I got mine from Harris Teeter, but I've seen it from time to time at Farm Fresh or Trader joe's.

June 08, 2007 6:47 AM  

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