Monday, August 9, 2010

*drumrollllll* Broccoli di Rabe All' Aglio e Olio aka Broccoli Rabe

I have had you people beating down my inbox for this recipe. Okay, okay...here it is UNALTERED. The reason I am giving it to you unaltered, is because believe it or not to make broccoli rabe, it is not in the recipe. It is in the technique. If you do not select the right rabe, or do not know how to trim it, wash it and de-bitter it, your rabe will NEVER taste right anyway. Practice makes perfect. I could give you the recipe a THOUSAND times and if you don't have the gift, you just don't have it. That's something I can never give you. Trial and error. That's the best I can tell you. Sorry!

So here is my famous rabe recipe. Good luck, cause you'll need it. :-)

Ingredients:
about a pound of good broccoli rabe - try to go to a good italian market. they usually have a better selection. you are looking for a nice healthy bunch with no yellow leaves and no wilting.

about 4ish tablespoons of GOOD olive oil - i eyeball everything. please don't drown your rabe in oil. its just gross.

3-4 cloves of garlic smashed and chopped roughly - i like my garlic chunky cause i like the taste of it. if you don't mince it up.

1/4 of an onion minced and then smashed into a paste with a mortar and pestle

sea salt

crushed red pepper flakes to taste

a splash of balsamic vinegar - when i say a splash i mean it. you don't want to overpower your rabe. you don't even want to taste it, just want to say hmmmm what IS that??

water, as needed.

Method:
Trimming the rabe is ESSENTIAL, and I can't stress it enough. Otherwise you will have bitter rabe. And then you just wasted your time.

Remove any wilted and/or yellow leaves. Peel the stem and the tough outer leaves off and throw away. Wash in cold water and swish it all around and let it sit in the water for a few minutes by itself so that all the dirt settles to the bottom just like you would do with romaine lettuce. Take it out and drain, but don't pat it dry because you will want the moisture for wilting.

Heat the pan and oil on like a medium-ish heat. Throw in your garlic and the onion paste. DO NOT BURN THE GARLIC AND PASTE!!! Then throw in red pepper flakes to let them get a little toast on them. Throw your rabe in the pan and season with the salt. Toss all that together. Throw a little water into the pan and bring to a boil and cover with a lid. You only want to stir the rabe occasionally. Check every so often for tenderness and to see if you need to add a little water in between. Don't over water, you're not trying to grow the rabe here, you just need a little to wilt it down and soften it. It should only take about 10 minutes anyway.

Right when its about done, you might have a little extra water left over in the bottom, or you should anyway. Taste your rabe and season with salt to taste. Throw the heat on high and throw that splash of balsamic in. TOSS, do NOT stir the rabe until it's well coated. This should take 40 seconds tops.

Remove from heat and serve.

If your rabe is bitter, you didn't do something right. It really is a practice. Like I said, I could give you the recipe a thousand times, and if you don't trim, clean and de-bitter the rabe right, it doesn't matter what you do. It just won't come out right. Again good luck and I hope this recipe works out for you.

Tutti a tavola a mangiare! :-)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Quick and Easy Roasted Peppers


This is a new spin on roasted peppers. Obviously the true method is roasting the peppers on an open flame until blackened. That is the old way. And you never mess with a good thing. I can remember peeling peppers with my grandfather until my fingers were blistered. Then it was the recipe to get the most amazing marinated peppers I have ever tasted. I am NOT giving up that recipe. :-) There are some secrets I just won't divulge. But here is a recipe I play around with when company is coming and I want to make a quick roasted pepper to have guests slop on some crusty Italian bread to have as an antipasti before one of my fabulous meals. It's a spin on an old tradition and it tastes great. Try it out.

Ingredients:

4-5 Bell Peppers (I use a combination of red, yellow and green)halved and seeded
2-3 Italian long hots halved and seeded
8 cloves of garlic peeled and smashed
4 plum tomatoes seeded and halved
1 onion quartered and separated
2-3 sprigs fresh thyme (don't use dried herbs - I'm so against it)
about 1 tablespoon sugar
good aged balsamic vinegar (invest in it - cheap vinegar is too acidic)
good extra virgin olive oil (invest in it - the darker and greener the better)
sea salt
cracked pepper

Method:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Arrange peppers, garlic, onion and tomatoes on baking sheet. lay thyme springs on top. drizzle olive oil liberally. sprinkle balsamic vinegar over veggies. add salt, pepper and sprinkle about 1 tablespoon of sugar over the veggies. (the sugar will help to break down the acidity and to caramelize and aid in the roasting process).

roast for about 40-50 minutes. i like to roast until slightly charred, but if you don't like the charred flavor, then pull them out when tender.

allow to cool. discard the onion, thyme sprigs, tomatoes. remove peppers to a cutting board and slice into strips and place in serving bowl. take the roasted garlic and chop finely. pour all the juice from the roasting pan into the bowl and toss lightly and you are done! :-) serve with a nice crusty Italian bread.

Tutti a tavola a mangiare!