Broccoli Rabe

Photo: Kang Kim for New York Magazine. Illustrations by John Burgoyne

Not so much a kissing cousin to plain old broccoli as an eccentric great-aunt who pops in for an unexpected visit every once in a while, broccoli rabe has a delicious bitterness that stands up to sharp flavors, as demonstrated in this recipe from 202 and Nicole’s chef Annie Wayte. The local variety that Ken Migliorelli of Migliorelli Farms grows and sells at the Union Square Greenmarket is at its best now and in the early spring, and it comes with a distinguished family pedigree: Migliorelli’s grandfather Angelo brought the seeds with him when he emigrated from Italy in the thirties.

Annie Wayte’s Broccoli-Rabe Salad With Black-Olive Dressing

1 teaspoon butter
2 tablespoons bread crumbs
12 black peppercorns
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt
1/3 cup Kalamata olives, pitted
Squeeze of lemon juice
1 bunch (or approximately 1 to 11/2 pounds) broccoli rabe
2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, shaved with a vegetable peeler or grater

Melt butter in a sauté pan over medium heat, add the bread crumbs, and toast until crisp and golden, about 3 minutes. Set aside. Using the side of a wide-bladed knife, coarsely crush the peppercorns. Place them in a small sauté pan and toast over medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the garlic and olive oil, and sauté until the garlic turns golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Add a pinch of sea salt, the olives, and lemon juice. (1) Cook for a minute and then remove from heat. Set aside to infuse for 15 minutes. Remove thick stems from broccoli rabe and discard. Then trim remaining flowers and leaves into small branches. Wash and drain leaves and flowers in a colander. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. (2) Drop the broccoli rabe into the water and cook until tender, approximately 5 minutes. Drain broccoli rabe and divide among four plates, (3) layering with the Parmigiano shavings. Warm the black-olive dressing over low heat and then spoon it over each plate. Finish with a generous sprinkling of the toasted bread crumbs. Serve immediately. (Adapted from Keep It Seasonal [William Morrow] by Annie Wayte.)

Broccoli Rabe