My favorite way to cook broccoli raab is to roughly chop an entire bunch, discarding the last inch or two of stem. If there are flowers in the bunch, even better. Put the whole mess of it into a wide saucepan with an inch of water and a knob of butter. Bring it up to a boil, lower the heat, and cover the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the broccoli raab is tender and deep green, 3 to 4 minutes. Toss the raab in the buttery water, drain off any excess liquid, and sprinkle crunchy salt and crushed red pepper flakes over the whole pan. Broccoli raab really needs two things to tame its bitterness and make the leaves tender and silky: a quick boil in water and a whole lot of butter or oil. This accomplishes both, and I can eat a whole bunch this way if there’s no one to share it with me.
That being said, my favorite way to feed broccoli raab to other people is in this pasta dish. It’s so quick and special, and the tangle of leaves and flowers with the half-melted cheese and buttery pasta is a luscious thing to twirl with a fork. Feel free to adjust the spice to your liking. If you can handle more red pepper flakes, go for it.
- Yield: 4 Servings
- Kosher salt
- 12 ounces spaghetti, linguine, or fettuccine
- 1 bunch broccoli raab leaves, stems, and flowers (about 1 pound), woody stem ends removed, roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 10 anchovies in oil, rinsed and finely chopped
- 1½ tablespoons minced or pressed garlic (4 to 6 cloves)
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- ½ pound fresh mozzarella, cut or torn into bite-sized pieces
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook, stirring once or twice, for about 5 minutes. Add the broccoli raab to the pot with the pasta and cook until the pasta is tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain the pasta and broccoli raab in a colander and return the pot to medium heat.
- Place the butter and olive oil in the pot, and heat until the butter melts. Remove the pot from the heat, and quickly add the anchovies, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Stir to combine as they cook in the warm oil. Add the pasta and vegetables to the pot and gently toss to coat in the sauce. Fold in the mozzarella.