Broccoli Rabe and Citrus Salad

If you aren’t eating broccoli rabe, you’re missing out. You’ve likely seen it in the grocery or on restaurant menus. It goes by many names – broccolini, rapini, friarielli – and as it turns out, it isn’t actually broccoli. But it produces little florets that look like broccoli (as nearly all mustard flower clusters do), hence the reference. Unlike its bland cousin, rabe has an intense, sharp, and somewhat bitter taste reminiscent of other dark mustard greens.

We typically pan sauté rabe in olive oil, stems and all, with a pinch of chili flakes and a sliced clove of garlic. It’s delicious served warm with a fresh squeeze of lemon juice or a dash of balsamic vinegar. It works well as a side dish, but we like it just as well featured on pizza or on one of the Tartine-inspired open-face sandwiches we prepare in our awesome Breville toaster oven.

Broccoli rabe’s bold flavors pair nicely with citrus, nutty olive oil and rich Pecorino cheese in this “last-of-the-season” salad. Finished with crunchy sea salt crystals and fresh cracked black pepper, this dish hits all the best taste marks.

Our thanks to veggie grower Andy Boy and recipe creator Julia della Croce for this tasty inspiration.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Broccoli Rabe and Citrus Salad
Serves 4

1 bunch broccoli rabe, rinsed, ends of stems trimmed
2 blood oranges (we used Caracara oranges)
1 ruby grapefruit
2 ounces shaved manchego or pecorino cheese
Large flake finishing salt (we’re fans of Maldon sea salt flakes)
Good extra virgin olive oil

Blanch cleaned broccoli rabe in salted boiling water for approximately 30 seconds, remove from boiling water and plunge immediately into prepared ice bath. Once cooled, remove rabe from ice water and spin dry in a salad spinner or pat dry between towels. Set aside.

Peel citrus using a knife to remove all external skin and white pith. Slice citrus into quarter inch thick rounds.

Assemble salad by arranging broccoli rabe and citrus slices on a platter. Shave cheese over greens and fruit, drizzle with generous amounts of olive oil, sprinkle sea salt over everything and finish with a few grinds from the pepper grinder. Serve.

Persian Cucumbers with Garlic and Soy Sauce

King of Noodles sits just steps from our apartment. The small, sort of subterranean hole in the wall on Irving at 18th Avenue serves some of the best food in the Sunset. Their lamb noodle soup haunts us. It is the thing that most draws us back again and again. That and an impressive list of hand-filled steamed dumplings (made across the street and delivered fresh throughout the day). More on that another day.

In addition to a number of tasty, hand-pulled noodle dishes, the restaurant offers a few fresh, raw vegetable starters, including this crushed Persian cucumber salad. We love it and think the garlic lovers among you will too!

Persian cucumbers are becoming increasingly available in our local markets. We typically get ours from Trader Joe’s, but our local fresh market at 22nd Avenue & Irving sells them too. That’s where these came from. Persian cucumbers have crisp, dense structures with tiny seeds that you don’t have to remove. They’re tender and not as bitter as garden variety cucumber seeds.

This is as simple a dish as you’ll find. You’ll want to eat this as soon after preparing it as possible to preserve the delicious contrast of cool fresh cucumber and salty soy. The cucumbers will get watery over time and lose their snap if left to sit in the dressing for too long.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Persian Cucumbers in Garlic and Soy Sauce

4 Persian cucumbers
3 tablespoons soy sauce (we prefer low sodium varieties)
1/4 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 large clove fresh chopped garlic

On a clean cutting board, trim the ends of the cucumbers and cut into inch-long segments.

Using a fork, the back of a spoon, or the side of a knife, gently crush the cucumber segments until they just split in half.

Place the crushed cucumber in a mixing bowl. Add soy sauce, sesame oil and chopped garlic to bowl and gently toss with cucumbers until they’re completely coated with the soy dressing.

Serve immediately.