Batter-Fried Broccoli Rabe
These fritters are crunchy, tangy, deeply flavorful, and entirely addictive. I’ve always adored batter-dipped squash or pumpkin flowers and grew up on fritters of all kinds, but when I fried broccoli rabe for the first time, it was so good, I was floored. In all my years of cooking, I’d never thought to make them until recently. One day, after frying the last squash blossoms that grew in my garden, and pondering the batter that was left over, I grabbed a stalk of broccoli rabe that was on my countertop and dunked it in. Voila! A few minutes later, I was nibbling on the most delicious fritter I’d ever made! Don’t they say that the best discoveries are not by design? Since broccoli rabe is available year-round, make them any time. Serve them for snacks, as appetizers, as a side dish. You’ll never have enough.
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.
- Canola, grape-seed, or another vegetable oil with a high smoking point for frying
- ½ cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
- 12 tablespoons sparkling mineral water
- 12 whole broccoli rabe stalks, including crowns and leaves
- Fine sea salt
1. Fill a deep skillet or frying pan with enough oil to reach about 1 inch up the sides. Warm over medium heat until the oil is hot enough to make a bread cube sizzle.
2. In the meantime, put the flour into a mixing bowl large enough to accommodate a stalk. Pour in the sparkling water and mix with a whisk until the mixture is blended and smooth. It should have the consistency of beaten egg and easily coat a spoon. If the mixture is too thick, thin it with a little more of the water.
3. Cut off any discolored tip from the base of the broccoli rabe stalk but leave their leaves and crowns intact. Wash them and pat them dry thoroughly with a paper towel. Dip each of the stalks into the batter just before you are ready to cook them, using the stem as a handle. Slip them carefully into the pan to avoid splattering. Put only as many stalks into the oil as can fit easily without crowding. Fry until they have a golden cast, about 6 minutes altogether, turning them over midway during cooking.
Use a skimmer to retrieve them when they are done. Transfer to paper towels, taking care to avoid crushing them. Sprinkle them with salt immediately to ensure that it will stick and keep them crisp. Serve at once.
Variation with hot pepper sauce: If you like it hot, pass a bowl of hot pepper sauce at the table with these sassy fritters. The best matches are those that are big on flavor as well as fire, such as Mexican or Southwestern types based on chipotle. The sweeter Asian types like Sriracha are not as compatible—these fritters taste best with a saltier salsa. There is a world of hot sauces to choose from. Wikipedia gives a useful summary for novices.
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