Makes 6 servings
Rapini, also called broccoli raab, broccoli rabe, rime di rapa, and broccoli di rapa, is a cool-weather Italian favorite harvested in spring or fall. It has tender stems (check that they don't look fibrous), small florets, and ruffled leaves that distinguish it from sweeter Chinese broccoli, with its large, leathery leaves, and from sprouting, or "baby," broccoli, which has small, oblong leaves. A quick toss on the grill adds sweet smokiness to its pleasing bitter edge. In addition to being a great accompaniment to lamb, pork, and game birds, it is wonderful as an appetizer on bruschetta, in a grilled cheese sandwich, or mixed with cannellini beans.
Trim away about 1 inch of the tough stem from the rapini stalks and discard. Cook in a large pot of rapidly boiling salted water for 3 minutes. Drain the rapini and rinse (shock) in ice water to retain the color and stop the cooking. Drain again and toss with 3 tablespoons of the oil and salt and pepper.
Heat a grill to medium-high. Spread the rapini over the grill. It will be kind of a tangle, which is fine, just get as much rapini as possible touching the hot rack directly. Grill, turning once, until the rapini leaves are charred, 2 to 3 minutes total. Remove to a cutting surface and chop coarsely. Drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Treviso Variation: Torpedo-shaped Treviso radicchio has a more delicate flavor than the more common round Chioggia variety. Use 2 large or 4 small heads Treviso. Don't precook them. Leave them whole if the heads are small, or cut larger heads lengthwise into halves or quarters. Soak in ice water for 20 minutes, then drain, pat dry, and toss with the oil, salt, and pepper as for rapini. Grill as directed, fanning out the leaves so as many as possible touch the rack. Chop to serve.
Chef's Tip: Brian Wolff, chef de cuisine at Lucques Restaurant, grills tart wild summer purslane after the steaks come off the barbecue, which adds extra flavor—"like deglazing the grill with the wild green." Flora Bella and Rutiz farms forage this California native plant to bring to market. Slightly succulent and tangy, it is also delicious sautéed, or used raw in salads when its leaves are tiny.
This page created October 2007
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