It’s been raining for what seems like forever in New York, but in reality, I think it’s only been pouring since Sunday. All I know is that my horrible knees start to act up after more than a day of constant rain and humidity – I inherited this lovely trait from my mother and grandmother, so thanks, guys! Rowing in high school probably didn’t help my knee situation, but what can you do? Sometimes I feel like an old woman, and I have recently started having to wear a knee brace when I do exercise. I don’t remember my knees being so bad when I lived in Phoenix, but I guess when you walk absolutely everywhere you go, things are bound to be exasperated. Kramer seems to have fine knees, which he insists on rubbing in my face as he practically races down the subway steps with me lagging behind (although he always realizes that he’s going too fast, turns around, and patiently waits for me to catch up – what a gentleman).
So, on to broccoli rabe. Am I the only one who thinks of Andy Bernard and his a cappella group, “Here Comes Treble,” from The Office when you hear “broccoli rabe” (Andy’s group had a member called “Broccoli Rob” for you people out there who have lives and don’t spend your evenings in front of the television). No? Just me. Alright, then. Broccoli rabe is also known as rapini, and it is delicious. It’s got a bold, bitter flavor that contrasts well with crisp, salty bacon, fragrant garlic, and bright lemon. It’s a dish that even Kramer enjoyed eating (the bacon didn’t hurt, obviously). You can even make this a vegetarian dish by simply omitting the bacon and sauteing the broccoli in olive oil instead of bacon fat. It’s a great side dish to be serving along with roasted chicken for an easy Sunday meal, or at a picnic or barbecue, as it’s as tasty room temperature as it is piping hot. Take it from me; I was eating it all day, long after it had cooled, while I cooked the rest of our meal and photographed. There’s something addicting about this flavor combination, and if there’s something you should be addicted to, it’s broccoli!
Then place the broccoli in an ice bath, so it stops cooking, and drain as much water from it as possible.
Drain all but 1-2 tablespoons of bacon fat from the pan (and reserve that bacon fat, because, you know…it’s delicious bacon fat), then in the broccoli, saute for a few minutes, then add in the garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice and cooked bacon. Taste, and add salt and pepper.
- 1 bunch broccoli rabe
- 4-5 slices thick cut bacon (to make this dish vegetarian, simply omit the bacon and use 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil)
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- juice of ½ lemon
- zest of ¼ lemon
- pinch red pepper flakes
- salt and pepper, to taste
- First, bring a pot of water to a boil and add int he broccoli rabe. Let the broccoli blanch for 2-3 minutes, then remove and rinse with very cold water, to stop the cooking process, then drain all of the water from the broccoli and pat dry.
- In a large pan, cook your bacon over medium-high heat, for 6-8 minutes or so, until crispy. Remove with a slotted spatula onto a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Remove all but 1-2 tablespoons of bacon fat from the pan (and reserve the rest for later – I like to keep excess bacon fat in the fridge to use later for extra crispy home fries) and add in the broccoli rabe (alternatively, you can just use olive oil in place of the bacon/bacon fat). Cook for 5 minutes over medium heat, then add in the garlic, lemon juice, lemon zest, and a pinch of red pepper flakes, for another 2-3 minutes, until the garlic is fragrant and the broccoli is tender. Taste, and add salt and pepper as desired. Serve warm or at room temperature, making this perfect for a barbecue or picnic.