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Sep 20, 2006 04:21 PM

"Stringing" broccoli rabe

When I prepare broccoli rabe, I string every stalk that's not really, really thin. Recognizing that I can be a bit compulsive, I wonder if this is necessary. I've never not done it, so I don't know how it'd come out. I don't blanch it before the saute. Has anyone prepared it both ways?

I don't mind stringing; it's a nice mindless task, like shelling peas. But when I'm in a hurry it would be nice to be able to skip it, if the results are just as good.

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  1. I never do it. If you cook it lightly you will get a bit more crunch but I think that is a good thing.
    And I never blanch because l love the bitterness.

    1. I just throw any stalks that are too woody into the compost.

      Usually there aren't any.

      Never blanch. Why waste flavor and nutrition?

      1. huh, i've never stringed. and never experienced particular stringiness or overly fibrous-ness (sorry, making up words here).

        my big question is to blanch or not to blanch--marcella hazan has a recipe that calls for boiling for 8 minutes prior to sauteeing. the end product is not bitter whatsoever, and tasted soft, comforting and delicious. but i much prefer the bite of barely cooked greens.

        1 Reply
        1. re: rose water

          I prefer not blanching, myself, though sometimes I'll admit that the flavor can be too intense. I'm guessing that may have something to do with how fresh it is, bit maybe I'm overthinking it a bit. Anyway- blanching will definitely cut down on the bitterness if you like to play it safe. I think it just comes down to how your family likes it.

          Per the original post- I've seen Lidia Bastianich string the stalks and discard the leaves, which does seem to make for an elegant presentation but I have never done so myself (and I've been eating the stuff for over 25 years). I like the leaves, doggone it!. I trim them the way that Robert Lauritson suggests above and just discard the really heavy parts of the stems.

        2. Stringing? Never heard of anyone calling for that. I usually cut the lengths into 2-inch lengths and maybe that cuts down on long fibers.

          To blanch or not to blanch: varies. Generally blanch for one minute and add to pizza/pasta etc. or char on grill. I like the texture better after the blanching and the short blanch time doesn't kill the bitterness which I like.

          1. I don't string stalks but I taste the broccoli rabe raw to see how bitter it is. This varies a fair amount. If it's very bitter, I'll blanch it briefly before cooking. If not, I cook it without blanching.