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Broccoli Rabe with Pancetta and Garlic

Broccoli Rabe with Pancetta and Garlic
Also known as broccoli raab, rape and rapini, this relative of cabbage, turnips and mustard shares their hearty flavor. Like broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower, broccoli rabe is a cruciferous vegetable high in fiber, vitamins and minerals. It has slim stalks, jagged dark green leaves and small florets. Its pleasantly bitter flavor pairs very well with other strong flavors, as this southern Italian recipe illustrates. Be sure to remove any tough stems and wilted leaves before cooking.

Ingredients:

  • 2 lb. broccoli rabe, trimmed and cut into bite-
     sized lengths
  • 3 oz. pancetta, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 to 3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • Small pinch of hot red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Salt, to taste
  • Juice of 1⁄2 lemon, or to taste

Directions:

Bring a large saucepan three-fourths full of water to a boil over high heat. Add the broccoli rabe and cook until just tender but still brightly colored, about 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.

In a fry pan over medium-high heat, sauté the pancetta until lightly crisp, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, 2 Tbs. of the olive oil and the red pepper flakes and sauté until the garlic is just slightly colored, about 1 minute. Add the broccoli rabe, adding more oil if needed to prevent scorching, and toss it with the garlic mixture until tender and heated through, 1 to 2 minutes more.

Transfer the mixture to a serving dish and season with salt. Add the lemon juice and toss well. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

Variation Tips: Prepare this dish without the pancetta, let cool to room temperature and serve as a salad. Or, toss the finished dish with freshly cooked pasta and a few dollops of ricotta cheese.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Vegetable, by Marlena Spieler (Simon & Schuster, 2002).