Sunday, May 6, 2012

Braised Broccoli Rabe with Olive Tapenade

This has been the perfect weekend, capped off with what I think of as the perfect lunch.  But more on that later.  Someone asked me recently what would I do on the perfect weekend in New York.  My answer was that I would do nothing.  But that is totally deceptive.  By doing "nothing" I mean going to Central Park with Brady and Alex Saturday morning for leash off where we would meet up with friends.  And then we would get coffee before I ran off to the gym.  Saturday afternoon we might go to the Union Square farmers' market or lunch.  Or we would just wander around the city.  Saturday night we would go out for dinner at a fabulous but moderately low key restaurant (no Meatpacking or crazy trendy restaurants for me on Saturday night), followed by a drink with friends.  Sunday morning we would head back to Central Park for leash off, followed by coffee and a jaunt to the farmers' market behind the Museum of Natural History.  After that, we would make lunch at home using some of the wonderful food we picked up at the farmers' market.  Sunday night we would make dinner using more of the fresh produce.  That is my perfect weekend.  Every once in awhile I want to throw in a Broadway show, a food festival, a cooking class, some serious shopping or a big night out with friends.  But for the most part, my perfect weekend is taking advantage of the things that NYC has to offer that I enjoy - Central Park, farmers' markets and delicious restaurants.  This weekend was one of those weekends.  We tried out a great restaurant called Whitehall Bar & Kitchen last night.  They had a fantastic cocktail list with a focus on gin and delicious food.  I highly recommend it.  And then today we made my favorite kind of lazy Sunday lunch cobbled together with fresh bread, fresh produce and other farmers' market finds.  I decided today to pick up some fresh ricotta from the farmers' market and make simple crostini on fresh bread with the ricotta, a drizzle of good quality evoo, sea salt and pepper.  The fresh ricotta was sweet and lush, not as watery as grocery store fresh ricotta.  It would be the perfect ricotta to make cheesecake with or serve with strawberries and balsamic.  And then we braised a gorgeous bunch of broccoli rabe and served it all with some mole salami from Mario Batali's dad's store Salumi Artisan Cured Meats that we picked up at Gastronomie 491. Everything was delicious.

The broccoli rabe was salty and spicy and a good counterpoint to the creamy sweetness of the crostini.  We used a Mario Batali recipe for inspiration, but we improvised a bit.  Our broccoli rabe was young and a lot more tender than the broccoli rabe that you find at the grocery store so I didn't want to braise it for a long time.  And we didn't have small black olives, so Alex suggested throwing in some green olive tapenade.  I also briefly considered adding some red wine to the braising liquid, but decided that I was too lazy to open a whole bottle of red to just use 1-2 tbsp of it.  The broccoli rabe was good, but I'm curious to see how it would taste with actual olives instead of tapenade.  When I checked out the same Mario Batali recipe online I saw that it called for anchovies, as well as olives.  That sounds a little too aggressive for me, but who knows?  Maybe we will try that next time too!

Recipe after the jump!

Braised Broccoli Rabe with Olive Tapenade

1/4 cup evoo
1 clove garlic, crushed and roughly chopped
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 extremely large bunch of young broccoli rabe (or 2-3 normal sized bunches), trimmed and roughly chopped (rinsed and still very damp)
1/4 cup olive tapenade
Heat olive oil in a large pot over moderately-low heat.  Once the oil is warm, add garlic and red pepper flakes.  Saute until the garlic is golden and the oil is fragrant.  Add the damp broccoli rabe.  You want plenty of water to cling to the broccoli rabe to provide the braising liquid.  Toss broccoli rabe to coat in oil.  Cover the pot and lower the heat to low.  Braise until broccoli rabe is tender, about 8-12 minutes (depending on the size, age and tenderness of the broccoli rabe).

Remove from heat and toss with olive tapenade.  Transfer to a serving bowl and serve warm.

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