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Jun 25, 2008 07:44 AM

broccoli rabe mavens - HELP

we are making broccoli rabe as a side dish for a Italian wedding celebration and I have a few questions for the Italian Food Mavens amongst us

we are having pre ceremony stationary hors d'oeuvres with
chef action pasta station

assorted antipasto stuff (olives, salami, marinated mushrooms, etc)
4 passed appetizers

Rosemary Roasted Leg of Lamb with au jus
Mussels and shrimp marinara with pasta
Broccoli Rabe
Roasted Baby Red Potatoes
Tri Colore Salad with Balsamic


1. given 120-130 guests how much raw product should we purchase?

2. How far ahead can the Broccoli Rabe be cooked - one day, two days or three days?
I know when I have made it at home in the past it seems to taste better the next day.

3. Do you recommend the boil or blanch method? How far ahead (how many days) can this be done?

4. Should we boil and or blanch then cover with damp towel and put in refrigerator. Then cook in garlic and oil on the day ?

or can we also cook with garlic and oil a few days prior (how many) and just reheat

5. would it be acceptable to serve at room temp (bride suggested this - there is no kitchen and we are pushed for space and time to reheat because of the pasta station and the linguine (and the budget)

or how long could it be held in cambro (held warm in heating unit) - what should we watch out for

6. Any killer recipes (any other suggestions besides hot pepper flakes & shaved parm. cheese)
I am also thinking of squeezing on fresh lemon at the last minute - what do you think?

OK Broccoli Rabe Mavens of the world unite and answer the questions to further the cause.

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  1. 1) I can generally get 2-3 servings per pound.

    2) You can blanch and freeze for up to 30 days.

    3-4) I tend to cook with less than a half inch of water to just get the stems soften, then I add to a pan of garlic and butter to saute and squeeze lemon on top. This can be reheated up to 2 days after.

    5) I think it would be acceptable, reheat until just warm -not hot and then cover.

    6) See above.

    1. 1. 2-3 servings per pound.
      2. I wouldn't freeze if you can help it. You can do a couple of things. a) blanche (we sometimes cut a slit in the thicker stems so they cook at the same rate). Lay them (since you are making so much) on a clean tablecloth to get rid of the water. Store in the fridge for 1-2 days. Bring to room temp when you need them. On that day, sautee in EVOO, garlic (that has been browned in EVOO first) , salt and pepperoncino. Can be served at room temp. b) Boil. These are much more mild; gets rid of almost all the bitterness. Heat (even microwave) and top with really good EVOO, Salt, toss.
      5. Room temp is good.
      6. Like lemon and EVOO if served cold after being boiled.

      1. We don't blanch or boil. When we toss it in the pan with olive oil and garlic, we just ensure that it has water still on the leaves from the rinse. Then we cover, and the water will actually steam the rabe in the pan, while infusing it with oil and garlic. I don't know if this is a 'proper' way to cook the brocoli rabe, but it is still delicious and of course, cuts out a step.

        Room temp is good.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Cachetes

          This is the best way for me to eat them and the way they do them in Italy as a more bitter alternative to the blanch and resaute.

        2. I have never, ever tried to freeze broccoli rabe.
          In my personal home cooking experience, leftover broccoli rabe is ok for me but not good enough texture-wise for husband, he won't eat it cold or leftover.
          Are you able to try the before method and taste test yourself?
          I would think it would get rubbery or stringy if prepped too far ahead, so give it a "dry run" now.

          I usually blanch, then sautee in fresh minced garlic & olive oil if serving as a side, dash of soy sauce or fish sauce for zing. If it's not a side (usually it's the main event) I do it my regular way with the sausage.

          We love this veg but in FL it's $3 for one small, shriveled bunch-imported from CA!

          1. I only saute this, so I'm useless for cooking methods for such a large group, but I thought I'd suggest anchovies with it. It goes very well.

            My favorite cheese with broccoli raab is pecorino pepato. The pepperyness is a great foil to the bitterness.

            I'd think that it would be fine at room temp.