Sautéed Broccoli Rabe with Garlic, Anchovies and Red Pepper Flakes
Toasting garlic in olive oil softens its pungency and draws out a natural nuttiness. Here, it is combined with salty anchovies and spicy red pepper flakes to help temper the slightly bitter taste of broccoli rabe. Italian white anchovies, or alici, have a pleasing, mild, salty flavor, so use them in this dish if you can find them.
- 1 bunch broccoli rabe, about 1 1/2 lb.
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 2 oil-packed anchovy fillets, minced
- 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
- Generous pinch of sea salt, plus more, to taste
- Generous pinch of freshly ground black pepper
- 1 lemon
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Fill a large bowl two-thirds full with ice water.
Trim off any tough stems and wilted leaves from the broccoli rabe and discard. Cut the leaves and stems into 1- to 2-inch pieces. Add the broccoli rabe to the boiling water and cook for 2 minutes. Drain the broccoli rabe and immediately plunge it into the ice water. Let stand for a minute or two, then drain the cooled broccoli rabe and set aside.
In a large fry pan over medium heat, warm the 1/4 cup olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the garlic, anchovies and red pepper flakes and sauté just until the garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute. Do not let the garlic brown.
Add the broccoli rabe, with the water still clinging to the leaves, to the pan and cook, tossing constantly with tongs, until it begins to wilt, about 2 minutes. Add the salt and pepper, toss and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer until the broccoli rabe is tender-crisp, about 3 minutes more.
Transfer the broccoli rabe mixture to a warmed serving dish. Halve the lemon and squeeze the juice from one half over the broccoli rabe, then drizzle with olive oil. Cut the remaining lemon half into wedges. Serve the broccoli rabe immediately with the lemon wedges on the side for squeezing. Serves 4.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma New Flavors for Vegetables, by Jodi Liano (Oxmoor House, 2008).