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Steamed Broccoli Rabe and Crouton Salad

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If you like your broccoli rabe with a kick, here’s another recipe that packs a punch. These steamed greens make a terrific warm salad when dressed with the classic French vinaigrette. Good wine vinegar (never balsamic here) makes a big difference in the dressing, so treat yourself to good quality. A few dollars more makes a big difference between an insipid vinegar and a complex one. The croutons give such a pleasant crunch and soak up every drop of the delicious dressing that might linger on the bottom of your plate. I like to make my own with cubes of sturdy stale bread fried in a little extra virgin olive oil, or you can toss stale bread cubes in olive oil and bake them (see Cook’s Tip, below).

Recipe by Julia della Croce
Julia is one of America’s foremost authorities on Italian cooking. She is a James Beard Award winning author and has written over 15 cookbooks.

Serves: 2–3
Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 5 mins
Total: 15 mins

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon good red wine vinegar
  • 2 sprigs finely minced fresh flat-leaf parsley, stems and leaves
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 3 tablespoons good extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 bunch broccoli rabe or equivalent bagged pre-washed broccoli rabe
  • 1 cup home-made (see Cook’s Tip, below) or purchased croutons
  • Equipment:
  • Steamer with a tight fitting lid

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Directions

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1. Make the dressing first. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mustard, salt, pepper, and sugar. Stir in the shallot and let the mixture macerate. Set the olive oil aside.

2. Use a large kitchen knife to trim off any discolored tips from the very bottom of the stems. Use a paring knife to peel the thick bottom stems. Separate the stems from the tops. Cut the stems into 2-inch pieces, leaving the crowns whole. Wash the greens in abundant cold water; drain. Use pre-washed broccoli rabe as is.

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3. Pour water into the bottom of a vegetable steamer to just below the bottom of the steamer insert. Bring it to a boil over high heat. Put the prepared broccoli rabe in the insert and cover. Cook over high heat for 3 minutes. Transfer it to a plate and let any residual cooking water drain out.

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4. Transfer the greens to a salad bowl. Pour the vinegar mixture over the greens. Dribble the olive oil over it and toss the greens with the dressing. Adjust for salt and pepper. Top with the croutons and serve warm or at room temperature.

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Cook’s Tip: For home-made baked croutons, preheat an oven to 350 degrees F. Cut good, stale peasant-style bread into dice. Toss them with extra-virgin olive oil to cover. If you like, season them to taste with grated hard cheese or dried herbs, or both. Bake until lightly toasted, about 15 minutes.

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