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Broccoli alla romana con succhietto integrale (Roman-style broccoli with whole wheat succhietto) and what to do with broccoli stems…

April 3, 2011

I’ve been reading Waverly Root’s The Food of Italy again (I just finished the section on the Lazio region–where Rome is), which means I’m feeling inspired to keep at this year of Italian cooking.  What glories await us!  If only we could be in the capital city this July for Noantri (the–watch out Seinfeld fans–“Festival of the Rest of Us”) to behold and to indulge in porchetta, symbol of Rome: suckling pig roasted whole on a spit.

Now I know that from what you’ve seen so far, it may look like we’re vegetarians, or close to it.  We’re not.  We’re omnivores.  We’re just omnivores on a budget.  Plus, we try to bring a lot of things together in our kitchen.  It’s a busy place and often as fraught with questions of food ethics as it is steeped with the sheer joy of entering into a creative process and coming out on the other end contentedly licking our lips and unbuttoning the top button on our jeans.  All this to say, I made pasta again not only because there are endless angles from which to approach it, but because it is a quick (and affordable) meal to make at the end of the day.

This evening’s angle?  Well, I’m on one of the proverbial roads that lead to Rome.  And this one is lined with broccoli.

My son Jacob loves broccoli.  I steam little batches for him and then he eats it, any time of day, cold from the fridge.  Tiny little broccoli buds get stuck in the creases of his neck and find their way down into his diaper.  I love that he loves broccoli.  I love broccoli.

Apparently Romans love broccoli, too.

Waverly Root notes that broccoli alla romana is “sauteed with white wine and olive oil with garlic.”  That’s enough of a recipe for me.  I added some lacinato kale because we had it, a pinch of crushed red pepper, and threw some whole wheat succhietto (corkscrews) in the pot and there you have it: another oh-so-quick-and-simple pasta dish.  Add some shavings of Parmesan and some freshly-grated Grana Padano and it was, I dare say, most tasty.  I wouldn’t be surprised to find little broccoli buds in the creases of my neck.

Now.  Since we’re on the topic of broccoli, and because I have decided to widen the range of postable topics for this blog (you detail-oriented readers may have noticed the addition to the tagline at the top of the page: “a year of Italian home-style cooking…and other things from our kitchen we just had to share…“), I’m going to tell you about a frittata we made the other night with stems leftover from the bushy tops of Jacob’s broccoli.  It too, is clearly Italian-inspired–we learned a lot from the last time we made a frittata–but the recipe is our own, made up on the fly from what we had in the fridge.  Namely, broccoli stems, beet greens, lacinato kale, goat’s feta, onion, garlic and parsley.  And boccaccini.  Because you’ve already seen a lot of Gorgonzola.  (What can I say?  I’ve never cooked with Gorg before and I get on kicks).  Joshua doesn’t like broccoli and much as Jacob and I do.  But a few bites into this frittata he said, “This may very well be the best possible way to use up broccoli stems.”  I think he’s right.  I hope you think so, too.

The recipes:

Broccoli all romana con succhietto integrale (perhaps I should say, “Broccoli alla Sarah” since this is my execution of Root’s very sparse indication of a recipe):

Serves 2 generously

olive oil to coat the bottom of your saute pan

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 stems of broccoli, stems quartered length-wise and chopped and florets divided to bite-sized pieces

8-10 lacinato kale leaves, de-stemmed and chopped

pinch crushed red pepper flakes

generous splash of white wine

sea salt, to taste

1/2 lb. whole wheat succhietto or your choice of pasta (penne or farfalle would be nice, too)

1 TBSP butter

Freshly grated or shaved Parmesan and/or Grana Padano to garnish–use as much as you like

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil for the pasta.

As the water for your pasta is coming to a boil, prepare the vegetables.  Just before it boils, begin sauteeing the garlic and broccoli stems in the olive oil.  Add the red pepper flakes and salt.  When you add the pasta to the water, add your broccoli florets and kale to the saute pan.  Add white wine and, if needed, a little more olive oil.  Saute briefly and cover, allowing the broccoli and kale to steam in the wine.  When the pasta is al dente, drain and return it to the pot, add the butter and toss to coat the pasta.  Divide the pasta into bowls and top with broccoli.  Garnish with cheese and serve immediately.  Add freshly grated cheese at the table if you like.

Frittata con broccoli-stems-and-friends

olive oil to coat the bottom of your saute pan

1 onion, chopped

4-6 garlic cloves, minced

2 broccoli stems, quartered length-wise and chopped

beet greens and stems from three beets, chopped (separate the stems from the leaves because the stems will go into the pan first)

6-8 lacinato kale leaves, chopped

1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped

1/2 – 1 cup goat feta, crumbled

sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1/2 cup bread crumbs (reserve 2-3 TBLS)

5 eggs, beaten

splash of milk (optional)

3 boccaccini, halved

Prepare an 8″ pan (we used our cast iron skillet) by coating it with butter and the 1/2 cup bread crumbs.  Sprinkle half of the parsley in the pan with the bread crumbs.  Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a large pan, saute onion, garlic and sea salt (about 1/2 tsp) in olive oil, about two minutes.  Add broccoli and beet stems.  Saute until onions are translucent and stems are tender-crisp.  Add beet greens and kale and plenty of freshly ground pepper.  Saute briefly and cover to allow greens to steam.  When the broccoli and beet stems are tender, remove from heat and add remaining parsley and feta.  Pour into prepared pan.  In a separate bowl, combine eggs and milk (optional) and beat lightly.  Pour over vegetables.  Top with reserved bread crumbs.  Bake until set but still slightly soft at the center.  Remove from oven and top with boccaccini halves.  Return to oven and place under broiler for a few minutes to brown the top and melt the cheese.  Allow to set for a few minutes before cutting and serving.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Rob Chestnut permalink
    April 7, 2011 11:44 am

    The hilarious thing Sarah, is how much Jacob likes broccoli and how much Josh HATED it growing up. I just hope Baby J keeps a better track record.

    • April 7, 2011 8:56 pm

      Here here. (Hear hear?). Though I must say that maybe–just maybe Big J is coming around on this one. Next Jacob-meets-Italian-food post: spaghetti. Oh, just you wait!

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