Broccoli Raab

Broccoli raab, like many greens, is known to have a more distinctive, bitter taste. This bitterness scares a lot of folks who decide that they do not like broccoli raab, or even worse greens altogether! Well worry not, my good friends, because the bitterness can be controlled! And when you do, you actually create a dish with another whole layer of complexity. Afterall, an entire nation of Italians canít really be wrong about it can they!?

The secret to cooking greens like broccoli raab is through balance. Itís actually a very versatile vegetable. It can soak up other flavors when braised or included in a soup or stew. It can be baked into pizza or calzones, where it retains its flavor but in a more mild form.

In preparing broccoli raab, it is best to first remove the stalks below the leaves, which do not cook as quickly. To balance out the bitterness the easiest strategy is to add salt and fat. Broccoli raab goes beautifully with sausage, bacon, anchovies, and olives. Another layer of balance can come from a bit of acid with tomatoes, vinegar, or lemon juice.

The following recipe (photo above) is a super simple preparation of broccoli raab with sausage and pasta, for a delicious meal!

Orecchiette with Broccoli Raab and Sausage
1 lb. pork, turkey, or chicken sausage (casings remove)
1 bunch broccoli raab, stems removed, coarsely chopped
1 Tbsp. olive oil
Pinch red pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups orecchiette or penne pasta
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
Salt & pepper
Grate parmesan cheese

1. Cook pasta according to box instructions until al dente. Reserve 1/3 cup of pasta water, then drain the rest of the water and set pasta aside.

2. Heat a large pan over medium high heat. Add sausage, breaking it up. Cook until brown. Remove sausage from pan and set aside in a bowl.

3. Leave any fat from the sausage in the pan, and return the pan to medium heat. Add the broccoli raab to the pan, and cook until just wilted, about 2 minutes. Add broccoli raab to the bowl with the cooked sausage, set aside.

4. Return the pan to the stove and heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil over medium heat. Add minced garlic and red pepper flakes. Sautee until fragrant, 1-2 minutes.

5. Add reserved 1/3 cup pasta water, cooked sausage, broccoli raab, and cooked pasta back to the pan. Mix well and heat through. Add lemon juice, salt, and pepper to taste.

6. Serve pasta and broccoli raab topped with grated parmesan cheese.

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