Friday, June 24, 2011

Broccoli raab, sudden availability of

For years, I have complained vociferously about the dearth of broccoli raab here in the Bay area. Yesterday I ate it twice. Yay!

Since our move to the East bay, it's been easy to get raab. The Pleasant Hill Market stocks it almost every day, and if they don't have it I can score at Lucky. (Or, if I have won the lottery, at Lunardi's.)

Yesterday I had a side of raab at Waterbar, a fancy-schmancy place on the Embarcadero in San Francisco. It was pretty good, but despite its $8 price tag, I like my home-cooked version better. So when I got home (after the Giants game, 12 strike-outs by Lincecum, thanks Timmy!) I did up my own version and served it alongside penne Arrabiata with turkey pepperoni.

If you can find raab (also called rapini), here's how to cook it:

Sauteed Broccoli Raab

Shopping tip: Choose raab that's a nice dark green - no flowers or yellowing leaves. Sniff it. If it smells bitter, it will be. If you can't smell it at all, that's a great sign. It will be tender and spicy, but not bitter.

You'll need:
  • One bunch raab, chopped (throw out the stems)
  • 3-4 cloves fresh garlic, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 - 1/2 cup chicken (or vegetable) broth
  • 1 tablespoon butter (optional - useful if you get a bitter bunch)
Preheat a large saute pan (or wok) to medium-high. Pour in the oil and let it come to heat. Add the sliced garlic and swish it around in the hot oil. Let it juuuuuust start to get golden, then throw in the raab and toss it together. Pour in 1/4 cup of broth, cover the pan, and let it steam down for 2 minutes. Add more broth if needed; continue to steam until bright green and tender, about another 3 minutes. Take a bite. If it's bitter, throw in the butter and toss. (Vegans - you can get the same mellowing effect with a handful of pignolis, AKA pine nuts.)

Raab is great on its own, but it also rocks as a pizza topping, in an omelette, or tossed with pasta. Buon appetito!

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