Cooking on the fly is not a new concept. Indeed, after giving it some thought, there really isn’t anything under the sun that hasn’t been done before in matters of the kitchen. Despite trendy travertine countertops and the technological advancements of convenience gadgetry, every recipe and method are variations on themes that have evolved and been recycled through the years, introduced to and re-discovered by new generations of cooks.
This is not a bad thing; it keeps the channels of creativity crackling and prevents our increasingly jaded senses from being dulled down to the point where every meal looks like a pot of porridge. In nations of plenty, we have come to expect and embrace these dynamic innovations, but now seem on the verge of something really “big and different”…a return to going slow, to the customs and traditions of our ancestors and their small-farm ways, naturally-raised foods and big-time cooking. Planting the seed to move us away from McDonald’s and agribusiness is a very good thing for our health, as well as the planet’s, but there is no reason why we can’t adjust our speedometers to include the best of both worlds. Rapini is an ideal candidate to get things started.
Celebrated historically by the Italians, rapini, more commonly known as broccoli rabe or other permutations, cooks up much more quickly than other members of the bulky brassica family. Vibrantly healthy and closer genetically to the turnip than its namesake broccoli, rapini’s easily wilted leaves, stems and flowers belie a bitter bite to the uninitiated. Classically sauteed with oil and garlic, and served as a side dish, the vegetable is often combined with starches to temper its flavor while providing color and texture.
As we look at “new” ways to expand our culinary repertoire, revamp our diets, and consider our energy output, lesser known produce like rapini can be expected to enjoy some well-deserved popularity. We can still have our fast food and eat it, too.
Rapini with Brown Rice and Chickpeas - From the Barlow's recipe.
2 bunches rapini, tough, thick stems cut off
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1-15 ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
3 cups cold cooked brown rice (I used a 10-minute style to further speed things up)
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper flakes (or more to taste)
Salt and Pepper
Rinse rapini under running water, then blanch 3 minutes in a large pot of boiling water. Remove from water and allow to cool.
Meantime, in large skillet, cook onions and garlic in the olive oil over low heat until onions are golden and brown edged. Chop cooked rapini and add to onions and garlic, cooking for about one minute. Add chickpeas, brown rice and hot pepper flakes, mixing well and heating through. Serve in bowls. Add salt and pepper to taste. If you use quick-cook rice, this meal can be ready in as little as 20 minutes.
Serves 4. --
This entry is being submitted to Ulrike of Küchenlatein, who is hosting Weekend Herb Blogging for Kalyn Denny of Kalyn's Kitchen, the creator of this food blogging event.