Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Mystery Ingredient... Broccolini!

So did you guess what my new food was going to be today?  It was broccolini! 
Can I just say-- I LOVE this pic of the broccolini.  Doesn't it look so elegant here?

Can you believe I never ate it before?  Before I cooked it, I was wondering what the difference between regular broccoli and broccolini actually is.  So like any computer nerd, I Googled it!  (Don't you love how Google, a prpoer noun, has not been made into a verb?)

According to www.cookthink.com,

Broccolini is the brand name of a vitamin-packed broccoli-like green vegetable with a registered trademark belonging to the Mann Packing Company, Inc. Nicknamed baby broccoli, it's actually a broccoli/Chinese broccoli hybrid that was developed in Japan and has a sweeter flavor than plain broccoli.

Introduced in the U.S. in 1998, it is now grown year round in California and Arizona and sprouts edible yellow flowers. Broccolini can be steamed, sautéed, boiled, roasted or tossed in a stir-fry.

But here's the thing.  I started making dinner tonight and I went to consult my recipe and noticed that it called for broccolini rabe.  So then I went, "Oh shoot... what is broccolini rabe?"  I went ahead and cooked the recipe with what I had.  But later I looked it up. 

According to www.associatedcontent.com,

Broccoli Rabe
The cabbage relative goes by many names, including broccoli raab, rapini and broccoletto, but it is most commonly referred to as broccoli rabe, and can now be found in most supermarkets and in many restaurants across the country. Often found in Southern Italy cuisine for quite some time, its popularity has seemingly migrated to the United States nearly overnight.

Broccoli Rabe appears as a leafy vegetable similar to kale or cabbage, with small broccoli-like florets mixed within the mass of leaves, all of which sit atop stems which are typically discarded, unlike broccoli stems, which are usually never discarded before consumption.

Broccoli Rabe can tend to be quite bitter, and is usually blanched in boiling water before additional preparation to help remove the some of the bitterness. An increasingly common way to serve broccoli rabe after fist blanching it is to then saute it with garlic and olive oil and some red pepper flakes. I also sometimes use white cooking wine and mirin or sake for additional subtle flavors. Many restaurants have taken to serving it with pasta dishes.

Broccoli Rabe is rich with phytochemicals that help fight against cancer, and also contains great amounts of Vitamin C, A, K and potassium.

So... it's a leafy vegetable... definitely not what I had in my kitchen!  Oh well.  I still tried something new and the recipe was still good. 

There were several things that went wrong in the cooking of this recipe.  First, midway through the recipe I went to reach for my red pepper flakes... only to find... you guessed it... I was OUT of red pepper flakes.  Yep-- the jar was empty!  Oops.  Forgot to check that.  So I used about 1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper instead.  It actually worked fine. 

This recipe was inspired by one of Giada de Laurentiis's recipes in Everyday Italian, but it was changed so much from the original that I am going to give it a new name and call it mine. 

Let's call it... "Spicy Sausage and Broccolini Pasta"

1 large bunch of broccolini, chopped
12 oz. dry sea shell-shaped pasta
1/2 lb chicken sausage
2 tbsp EVOO
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup shredded parmesan
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the broccolini.  Cook about 2-3 minutes.  Then add pasta.  Cook until pasta is al dente.  Reserve 1 cup of cooking liquid.  Then strain pasta and broccolini. 

While pasta cooks, heat oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat.  Add sausage, breaking up as it cooks.  When sausage is cooked through, add garlic and cayenne pepper.  Cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds).  Add pasta and broccolini.  Stir to coat.  Add liquid, 1/4 cup at a time, to add moisture.  Add as much as you like.  Add parmesan.  Stir to coat.  Finally, season with salt and pepper.  Stir to coat.

We really ended up liking this dish!  Funny how sometimes kitchen disasters turn into great meals sometimes! 

I'd love to hear some of your "food flop" stories.  Whether they have a good or bad ending, share!

I'm excited because today I signed an agreement to be a featured publisher with FoodBuzz website.  Yay!  FoodBuzz has been a great inspiration to me.  There are so many great food bloggers out there.

By the way, my little munchkin had "picture day" today.  Can you imagine being the photographer for a class of 2 1/2 year olds?  I cannot imagine.  I am sure they have lots of funny stories to tell!  We practiced saying "CHEESE!" for the camera as I was dropping her off this morning.

Thanks for reading!


  1. Loved learning about broccoli rabe. I kinda knew what it was, but not really. Paul and I have talked about the difference between that and broccoli many times (but we hadn't Googled) so thanks for doing the work for us. I have seen it put into Philadelphia Cheese Steaks too...on tv of course. Your dish looks delish! I'm going to make it soon.

  2. tasted great honey...loved the sausage and had just the right amount of spicy for my picky palette!!


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