Broccoli Rabe, also called Rapini, is a vegetable traditionally used in Italian, Spanish and Chinese cooking. Thanks to globalization, it’s now fairly easy to find in our U.S. markets, and is claiming its place on more and more American dinner plates. Broccoli Rabe’s slender stalks, dark green leaves and petite broccoli-bud heads are all edible and bear a resemblance in taste to broccoli (surprise!) and mustard. The delicate yellow flowers on the flowering bunches are similar to the pale yellow blossoms on mustard greens. I’m guessing these greens are cousins (or at least second cousins) because they look and taste similar to each other.
In this recipe, sautéed onions, toasted almonds and nutty bulgur temper the bitterness and pungency of Broccoli Rabe, yet still allow the broccoli flavor to hold center stage. Briny feta cheese is an ideal topping, though you could substitute parmesan if you prefer a milder cheese. Serve the Broccoli Rabe with Bulgur and Almonds as a side dish alongside roasted chicken or make it into an entrée by topping with a soft-boiled egg and serving roasted acorn squash with thyme on the side.
1 cup bulgur wheat
2 ½ cups boiling water
1 ½ pounds broccoli rabe (rapini; 1 very large bunch), bottom 1 inch of stems trimmed
2-3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, minced (about 2/3 cup)
? cup finely chopped almonds (or walnuts)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 cup crumbled Feta cheese
Make the Broccoli Rabe with Bulgur and Almonds
Place bulgur in medium bowl; pour 2 ½ cups boiling water over. Stir once and let stand until just tender, about 20 minutes. Pour bulgur into fine strainer set over bowl. Reserve soaking liquid.
Separate the broccoli rabe leaves from the stalks. Cook broccoli rabe leaves in boiling salted water until wilted, 1-2 minutes. Using tongs, transfer to bowl of ice water and cool. Cook broccoli rabe stalks in the same boiling water until crisp-tender, 4-5 minutes. Drain; julienne the leaves, cut stalks into bite-sized pieces and set aside.
Meanwhile, heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté until soft, about 2 minutes. Add almonds; sauté until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add broccoli rabe and bulgur; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until heated, about 3 minutes. If dry, add reserved bulgur soaking liquid by tablespoonfuls. Stir in lemon juice; season with salt and pepper. Toss in half of Feta. Pass remaining cheese separately.