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
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 PANINIadapted 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.