Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Penne with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe

I've never understood broccoli rabe. I've only had it a handful of times and I remember two distinct experiences. At one place it was cooked perfectly, with just the teensiest hint of bitterness offset by all the other ingredients in the dish. The other restaurant served it as a side dish and it was so bitter I couldn't eat it. I want to like it, though, so when it was on sale at the supermarket this week I thought I'd give it a try at home.

Giada's recipes tend to be hit or miss for me, but I forged ahead with her recipe for pasta with sausage and broccoli rabe. In the episode of Everyday Italian where I saw her make this dish she says that the key to cooking broccoli rabe is to blanch it to get rid of the bitterness. Apparently the bitterness leeches out into the water, leaving you with tender, not-bitter rabe. The recipe said to blanch it for a minute but I erred on the side of caution and left it in the water for a good two or three minutes. But, as is often the case with Giada, I was soon scratching my head in confusion when she called for cooking the pasta in the same water I'd just made bitter. Then, to make matters worse, she wanted me to reserve some of the cooking water (a.k.a the bitter water) to sauce the pasta.

I should have known better then to blindly follow her since I'd been burned before, but I was in a hurry because Gilmore Girls was on at 8 and I don't get home until 7:30. The resulting dish had a lot of potential but was definitely bitter, no doubt from the cooking water. Sometimes I wonder if anyone ever tested her recipes before committing them to print. Luckily I had the foresight to only make a half order so I'm not stuck eating it for lunch tomorrow. If SP likes it I'll try it again, but I'm throwing away the water I use to blanch the broccoli rabe even if it means dirtying an extra pot.
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