Toasts with Spicy Broccoli Rabe and Pecorino (Crostini con Rapini Piccanti)
Served as an antipasto in Umbria, Tuscany and elsewhere in Italy, crostini are traditionally topped with such savory delights as sautéed chicken livers, porcini mushrooms or black truffles. The bitter Italian greens and tangy cheese featured here are another wonderful combination.
For the crostini:
- 1 slender baguette, cut crosswise on the diagonal into slices about 1/2 inch thick
- Extra-virgin olive oil for brushing
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small fresh hot chili, minced, or a generous pinch of red pepper flakes
- 1 lb. broccoli rabe, tough stems removed, leaves and tender stems chopped
- 3/4 tsp. fine sea salt
- 1/2 cup shaved pecorino cheese
To make the crostini, preheat an oven to 400°F. Arrange the baguette slices on a large rimmed baking sheet and brush the tops with olive oil. Bake until the edges are lightly browned and the tops are golden, 8 to 10 minutes. You will need 20 crostini for this recipe.
In a large fry pan over medium-low heat, warm the garlic in the olive oil, stirring often, until the garlic is softened but not browned, about 7 minutes. Sprinkle in the chili and stir to coat it with the oil. Add the broccoli rabe by the handful and, using tongs or a wooden spoon, toss and stir to coat with the oil after each addition.
Cover and cook until the greens are wilted, about 1 minute. Uncover, toss again, re-cover and cook at a gentle simmer until the greens are tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Stir in the salt, increase the heat to medium and cook, uncovered, until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 10 minutes more. Remove from the heat and let cool for 10 minutes, then transfer to a cutting board and chop finely.
Spoon the filling on top of the crostini and top with the cheese shavings. Arrange the crostini on a platter and serve. Serves 6.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Rustic Italian, by Domenica Marchetti (Weldon Owen, 2011).