red chili rapini aglio e olio

red chili rapini aglio e olio

Green Superfoods – especially kale – have been “trending” for a while. Now, it seems like there’s a kale salad on the menu of every restaurant I’ve visited over the past six months. I couldn’t be happier. I LOVE me a plate of Tuscan kale, raw or cooked.

But I’m thinking that maybe kale is the gateway green to other dark and mysterious vegetables…….like rapini.

I’ve been familiar with rapini (also called broccoli raab or rabe) since I was a kid, when I knew it as “robbie”. My grandmother would occasionally put a bowl of slow-cooked robbie on the Sunday table. I’m pretty sure I was seriously afraid of it back then. After the long braising, the greens would go very limp and turn dusky, blackish-green, the same texture and color of the seaweed that got tangled in my feet at the beach. Not very appealing to a little girl who was just looking forward to a plate of macaroni and a meatball.

red chili rapini brushetta

In parts of New England and especially in Rhode Island where I grew up, broccoli rabe is still very familiar. It’s on the menu of mom-and-pop Italian delis, generously piled in grinder sandwiches with or without grilled sausage and provolone cheese.

Rapini is classified as a brassica, the same family as cabbage and broccoli, but it’s more closely related to turnip greens than it is to broccoli. When I’m shopping, I look for leaves that are uniformly dark green, with lots of tight little flower buds. Sometimes I find a bunch of rapini with its buds about to open to yellow flowers; a sign that it’s over the hill. I pass it by.

The lower stems can be tough and fibrous; I trim off about a third of the bunch, keeping the thin upper leafy stems and buds. Rapini has a slightly bitter bite, tempered by briefly blanching it in boiling salty water, which also preserves its beautiful emerald green color. I say briefly because unlike the way my mama made it, rapini doesn’t take very long to cook at all.

rapini

After blanching, I like to toss the greens with chili, garlic and olive oil (aglio e olio); they are delicious tossed with pasta, over creamy, cheesy polenta or piled on crusty toasted bread as a bruschetta.

red chili rapini agio e olio polenta and bruschetta

I enjoyed reading my friend Susan from Food Blogga’s post about broccoli rabe – we come from the same neck of RI.

Smitten Kitchen’s recipe for pasta with garlickly broccoli rabe makes me hungry, too.

Red chili rapini with olive oil and garlic

Serving Size: serves 4 - 6

Serve the rapini as a side dish, over creamy polenta, or as a bruschetta on toasted, crusty bread.

Ingredients

1 bunch rapini (broccoli rabe)

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1 fresh red chili pepper, thinly sliced

Pinch dried red chile flakes

Fresh ground black pepper

Grated fresh Pecorino Romano cheese

Instructions

  1. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil with 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  2. Trim off the lower, thick stems of the rapini; cut the remaining green leafy tops and buds into smaller pieces, drop into the boiling water and blanch 30 seconds. Drain and gently squeeze out any excess water.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the garlic, fresh and dried chili and cook for a minute or so, until sizzling and fragrant (but don't brown the garlic).
  4. Add the rapini to the pan and toss to coat with the garlicky oil. Remove from heat and season with salt and black pepper. Sprinkle with the pecorino.
  5. Serve as a topping for polenta, pasta, or bruschetta.
http://familystylefood.com/2013/01/red-chili-rapini-aglio-e-olio/

rosemary Lemon Polenta Cookies

Rosemary lemon polenta cookies
My go-to holiday cookie recipes are the ones that are the most unfussy. As much as I tend to be all hands-on in the kitchen, I possess a serious lack of patience when it comes to decorating food. Especially cookies, cakes and other sweet things- it’s just not my style. People who can spend hours on the finer details of beautiful desserts – I am in awe of them.

I’m pretty sure that same impatience gene seeps into other aspects of my life, but I’ll skip that story for now. All I can say is that yoga breathing is something I’m grateful to know and practice. Even with those deep breaths going in and out, I don’t see a future designing wedding cakes.

However, I do love to share some baking during the holidays and that’s why these cookies are a favorite. They have that rustic crunch from the cornmeal, an amazing lemon scent and a hit of piney-fresh rosemary.

Rosemary lemon polenta cookies

Rosemary Lemon Polenta Cookies

Yield: about 3 dozen cookies

Ingredients

10 tablespoons butter, softened

¾ cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest

2 eggs, at room temperature

¼ teaspoon lemon extract (optional)

1 ½ cups all purpose flour

¾ cup coarse ground cornmeal (polenta)

2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary, plus a few sprigs for garnish

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

¾ teaspoon fine sea salt

¼ cup pinenuts, plus extra for garnish

Glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar

2 tablespoons heavy cream

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Beat the butter and sugar in a standing mixer until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes on medium high speed. Add the lemon zest and the eggs, one at a time, beating until incorporated. Stir in the lemon extract, if using.
  2. Mix the flour, cornmeal, rosemary, baking powder and salt in a bowl until blended together.
  3. Add the dry mixture to the butter on low speed in 2 parts, just until the dough comes together. Stir in the pine nuts. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for an hour or two, until the dough is firm and scoopable.
  4. Heat the oven to 325 degrees and line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  5. Scoop the dough into tablespoon-sized balls (I like to use a cookie scoop) and arrange on the cookie sheets.
  6. Bake 12 minutes, or until the cookies are puffed and slightly golden on the edges. Cool the cookies on the baking sheet 5 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely.
  7. To make the glaze, stir together the powdered sugar, cream and lemon juice until smooth. Spread some glaze on each cookie; put a few rosemary sprigs and a pine nut on the top.
http://familystylefood.com/2012/12/rosemary-lemon-polenta-cookies/

Roasted Vegetables and Parmesan Polenta

Roasted Vegetables and Parmesan Polenta

I’m always amazed that my appetites change right along with the seasons. It’s clockwork; the last days of summer are turning to fall and I feel it from my first step outside in the morning, when there’s a chill in the air that wasn’t the day before.

Dinner starts to require something more than just a salad + something off the grill, and I’ll be thinking about what to cook at 4 o’clock rather than the relaxed summer schedule that sometimes doesn’t start until after 6…or whenever.

Polenta is often what I make when that fall feeling hits. I’m generous with butter and Parmesan cheese because they are made for each other (face it, polenta would be bland without it), tempered by a happy amount of roasted vegetables. It’s all good.

Roasted Vegetables and Parmesan Polenta

Ingredients

1 each red, yellow and orange bell peppers, seeded and diced

1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved

½ red onion, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon olive oil

Salt and pepper

3 small or 2 medium-sized zucchini, cut into 1-inch chunks

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves

2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

1 cup polenta or coarse cornmeal

1 – 2 teaspoons salt

½ cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese

3 tablespoons butter

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Combine the peppers, tomatoes, onion, olive oil and ½ teaspoon salt and pepper on a large rimmed baking sheet. Roast until beginning to soften and turn brown, 15-20 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, add the zucchini, garlic, thyme and balsamic vinegar. Return the pan to the oven and continue roasting 10 more minutes, or until the zucchini is bright green and slightly tender (not mushy).
  3. Meanwhile, bring 3 cups of water to a boil in a heavy saucepan. Gradually pour the polenta into the water while whisking at the same time. Add 1 teaspoon salt. Lower the heat to a slow simmer and continue to cook the polenta about 20 minutes or until it thickens and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan, stirring frequently so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Stir in the cheese and butter and add additional salt to taste if needed.
  4. Serve the polenta in bowls with the roasted vegetables and their juices over the top; sprinkle with additional cheese if you like.
http://familystylefood.com/2012/09/roasted-vegetables-and-parmesan-polenta/