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.

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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.

Tartine — The Sandwich

We are involved in an ongoing love affair with Tartine Bakery in San Francisco’s Mission District. We’ve stood in the bakery line more times than we can count and never once regretted the time spent contemplating the scrumptious treats awaiting us inside. We couldn’t find a croissant in Paris to best the flaky wonders on offer at Tartine. The pastries, cakes and cookies are irresistible, but the signature tartines, or open-faced sandwiches, truly inspire.

The open-faced croque monsieur is a favorite and increasingly popular at home. Preparation requires some thought as to ingredient combinations, but the basics are simple – savory ham and/or seasonal veggies, a thick sauce béchamel and good, flavorful cheese. The bread base of a Tartine Bakery croque monsieur consists of a generous slice of the house plain country loaf. At home, we use our own “no knead” bread and whatever fixings we have on hand. Once assembled, the sandwiches go under the broiler until the sauce and cheese are bubbly and starting to brown. To finish the meal, pair the croque with a simple green salad and a nice glass of wine – a dry Provencal rose or pink sparkling cava does it for us!

    Proscuitto and broccoli rabe tartine on the left, and a mushroom tartine on the right.


The “Recipe”

Sauce Béchamel

1 ½ cups whole milk

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 tbsp unsalted butter

2 tbsp unbleached all purpose flour

6 whole black peppercorns

1 bay leaf

1 sprig of fresh thyme

Warm milk, peppercorns, bay leaf and thyme. In a separate sauce pan, melt butter and add flour, cooking over medium heat until flour has toasted but before it browns. While whisking, strain milk into flour mixture and continue whisking until it begins to thicken. Remove from heat, add grated Parmesan cheese and season with salt to taste.

Assembling the Tartine

On 2 thick slices of country bread, spread a thin layer of the béchamel, top with ham or your choice of veggies (best if their separately cooked/roasted before going onto the sandwich), then finish with another layer of béchamel and top with grated gruyere or cheddar. Place under the broiler and toast until golden and bubbly.