Cathy's Kitchen Prescription LLC
Broccoli Rabe with Cannellini (Cime di Rapa e Fagioli)
If you are a fan of leafy greens with a slightly bitter edge like I am (think arugula and radicchio), you’re bound to adore broccoli rabe, aka rapini. This comforting beans-greens pairing hails from Puglia, the heel of Italy’s southern boot. A little pepperoncino for pizzazz, together with onion, garlic, wakame seaweed (in lieu of anchovy) and shiro miso tames the rapini and balances the flavors. This savory dish makes a splendid lunch or side. Choose young rabe with bright green leaves and tightly closed florets for the most tender, mild flavor.
In the vast cruciferous family of super healthy vegetables, leafy rapini is closer to mustards and turnips than broccoli, despite its deceptive florets. It generates negligible greenhouse gas emissions and carries a low water footprint. A nutritional powerhouse, broccoli rabe is loaded with cancer-fighting antioxidants, vitamins K, A, C, and an array of minerals.
Prep time: An overnight soak plus 1 hour for beans plus 15 minutes
Cook time 25 to 30 minutes
Serves 3 to 5
½ pound white beans like cannellini, great northern, or heirloom tarbais, marcella, or flageolet, soaked or steeped
2 large sage leaves or a sprig of rosemary
2 laurel (bay) leaves
5 large cloves garlic
2 bunches broccoli rabe, soaked, lower stems removed
1 medium onion, any variety, cut in a medium dice
1/2 cup dry white wine or vermouth or bean broth to deglaze pan
2 to 3 cups bean broth
½ cup chopped parsley from a fistful of Italian parsley
1 to 2 red Thai chilis or 1 dried pepperoncino, crushed, or to taste
½ teaspoon dried wakame, freshly ground
Grinds of black pepper
½ cup Shiro (mild, white) miso paste, diluted in water, to taste
Hint: If time is short, you can use 1½ 15-ounce cans of no-sodium canned cannellini or great northern beans, rinsed, and add in the final 5 minutes of cooking, though the dry beans will provide more flavor. In this scenario, you will also require two to three cups of vegetable broth and keep it warm.
Rinse the white beans, place in a bowl and cover with 2 inches of water. Soak overnight. If you forgot to soak the night before you could steep by beans instead: Place the beans in a pot, cover with water, bring to a boil and simmer for 3 minutes. Cover, turn off the heat, and steep the beans for an hour or until the beans have swelled and dropped to the bottom of the pot.
Drain the water and refill the pot. Add two garlic cloves and the herbs. Bring to a boil and lower immediately to barely a simmer. Most white bean varieties are delicate and will break in roiling water. In fact, in Tuscany cannellini traditionally were cooked slowly in the fireplace in a great glass flask (al fiasco), where they steeped for hours among the embers. That technique produced exquisitely scented intact plump beans. On the stovetop keep an eye out to avoid overheating the beans and begin testing for doneness in 30 minutes. Older beans may take longer. They are ready when they are plump, tender, and intact. We’ll use the beans and a few cups of the hot cooking broth below.
Rinse the rapini and soak in a large bowl of water to rehydrate. Discard the bottom few inches of the stem which may be woody and tough.
On a large cutting board place the parsley, three garlic cloves, and the fresh chilis or pepperoncino. Use a mezzaluna or chef knife to mince into uniform pieces. It should fill about ½-2/3 cup.
Use a small coffee or spice grinder to grind the wakame seaweed leaves into a powder.
Dilute ½ cup shiro miso with water to the consistency of a light batter. When serving the dish, we’ll season the plated dish with miso drizzled on top.
Heat a large heavy-bottomed stainless skillet over medium-low heat for 3 minutes. Add the diced onion and dry sauté for 2 minutes, stirring. After the onions have released their liquid and begun to darken the pan, deglaze the pan with a splash of white wine or bean broth, scraping up the caramelized onion sugars from the pan.
Stir in the ground wakame, the garlic/parsley/chili mix, and a few grinds of black pepper. Cook for a minute and then stir in the broccoli rabe. Add a cup of the herby bean broth, cover, and stew the rapini in the herbs for 20 minutes, turning the rapini once or twice. Test for doneness. When the rabe is almost tender, gently add the cooked beans, taking care not to break them. If the pan is dry, add another cup of bean broth. Cover and very gently simmer until the greens are tender but still intact, 5 to 10 minutes.
Taste and adjust seasoning as you like. The dish is ready when the beans and greens are tender, intact, and infused with flavor from the seasonings. Once plated, drizzle diluted shiro miso to taste on top. Serve warm with some crusty 100% whole grain artisanal bread or crackers.
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