Broccoli Rabe with Cannellini Beans and Garlic Croutons

broccoli rabe

 

I love broccoli rabe. It’s not something that my mom made, but I do associate it with an iconic mother — Carmela from the Sopranos. Watching Carmela in the kitchen always made me crave this kind of comfort food…and a trip to the nail salon. But when you live in Santa Barbara instead of New Jersey it can be a challenge to find broccoli rabe at the market.

broccoli rabe recipe

Here’s my try at growing broccoli rabe in the garden.

I tried growing it in my garden, but when it came time to harvest it had gone to seed so quickly that no florets ever formed. I harvested the plants anyway, but they lacked that wonderfully bitter flavor that is the mark of this veggie.

fall veggies

Here’s what I found at The Fresh Market.

Luckily, The Fresh Market made my brassica dreams come true. That place is worth the stop for the butter section alone! I feel like they have so many products that you normally can only find east of the Mississippi. When I spied the beautiful stacks of broccoli rabe, into the cart it went, nestled between my White Lily flour and another pot of mustard I do not need but couldn’t resist the packaging.

garlic croutons

Back to this dish, here’s a recipe for my favorite way to serve broccoli rabe. I made it for a girls’ night dinner on Friday and it was a big hit. The creamy beans, the bitterness of the greens matched with the brightness of the lemons and then the crunch of those croutons — it’s beautiful, delicious and fresh comfort food.

cooking white beans

It satisfies that “stick to your ribs” feeling we crave on these cool fall nights. I can’t say it’s cold! It’s a stretch to even say cool. For a casual dinner, you can serve this alone in a bowl or pair it as a side with a pork roast for a heavier meal. If you are going for more of a Martha vibe over Carmela, then you can call it rapini and trade that silk blouse for a starched button-up.

broccoli rabe and beans

Broccoli Rabe with Cannellini Beans and Garlic Croutons

Serves 4 – 6

 

3 heaping cups cooked white beans (cannellini, aka white navy beans)

 

Croutons:

 

1 clove garlic, sliced

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 heaping teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, plus more for garnish

1 cup torn pieces of baguette

Pinch of kosher salt

 

Chopped Lemon:

 

1/2 Meyer lemon, small dice (skin and all)

2 tablespoons olive oil

Pinch of kosher salt

Scant pinch of chili flakes

 

Broccoli Rabe:

 

1/2 bunch broccoli rabe, about 12 ounces (woody stems trimmed, washed and chopped in 2-3 inch pieces)

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic, sliced

1 pinch chili flakes

1/2 tsp kosher salt

 

 

I always make a whole pound of beans when I cook them because what doesn’t end up in a dish like this makes great soup or dip for the week. If you’re using canned beans make sure to rinse them well at the start and then adding a bit of water and olive oil to the pan when you heat them. If using fresh cooked white beans keep them covered on low heat in the juices you cooked them in until ready to serve.

 

Make the croutons first. They will stay crispy up to two days but are best served the day you make them. Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan on medium high heat. Add the garlic slices and thyme until they start to perfume your kitchen — this will happen before they turn golden brown.  Next, add the baguette pieces and season with salt.  Toss the bread in the oil mixture until coated and crispy about 5 minutes. Taste for seasoning. Let sit in a bowl covered with a paper towel until you are ready to use.

 

Chop up the lemon half — skin and all.  If you can’t find a Meyer lemon than grate the skin of a conventional lemon careful not to get the white pithy part and chop the meat of the lemon in a dice. Season the lemon with salt, oil and chili flakes. Reserve.

 

Now sauté your broccoli rabe, but before you do, make sure your beans are warm and ready for the final step. In a large sauté pan on medium-high heat add the oil, garlic and chili flakes. Be careful not to burn. Add the broccoli rabe pieces and salt. When you toss it in the oil it will turn bright green. Add about 1/3 cup of water and cover, cooking for an additional 3 minutes. Then, remove the cover and add the chopped lemon mixture to the pan. Toss coating the greens entirely. Add the beans and taste for seasoning.  Serve in a large serving bowl and top with breadcrumbs, fresh thyme, sea salt and some finishing olive oil.

garlic croutons

Try not to nibble away the croutons before you finish cooking.

best rapini recipe

rapini and beans

 

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4 thoughts on “Broccoli Rabe with Cannellini Beans and Garlic Croutons”

Looks great.. Carmella would be proud..any chance you also store money in your trash cans? I sure miss Sopranos.. Par

Yum, this looks delicious. BTW I have just returned from the Fresh Market and they have saffron salt on big sale right now, might be a discontinuing item. Thought that might be something you’d enjoy:). I bought some so will let you know when I break it out:)

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