Monday, December 14, 2009

Portabella Mushroom & Broccoli Rabe (Serves 3)

My wife works close to the Bronx's little Italy (Arthur Ave.) in NYC. Since we had never been there, we decided to go check the neighborhood out, and have lunch at one of the local Italian restaurants there. Another big incentive for me was that Teitel Brothers, the biggest wholesaler and retailer of Italian grocery in Bronx is also situated there, and I wanted to stock up!

After roaming around the neighborhood for a while and building up an appetite, it was time to eat. We turned around Arthur Ave and came across this simple and nice little restaurant called GianTina's. We were lucky in that this place turned out to be really good food-wise, although I would expect a little more effort from a service point of view.

My wife and I ate like pigs and ordered a lot of good wine and great food, making sure we had some to take back home :-). My wife had a kind of spiral pasta with pesto and cheese, and I had chicken with vegetables and sausages cooked in a wine sauce, both of which were great.

What caught my eye while going through the menu was one of the appetizers, Broccoli Rabe with Portabella Mushrooms and I ordered that. It was one of the best tasting appetizers I have ever had, very simple in preparation which I found out by asking our waitress, but rich in taste due to the fresh vegetables and especially the extra virgin olive oil. The flavor of this dish stood out due to the bold tasting oil which took the taste up several levels.

Since then I have been cooking up this appetizer dish at home very regularly, which I want to share with you all here.

1 portabella mushroom
1 whole bunch fresh broccoli rabe leaves (store bought)
3 tbsp good quality extra virgin olive oil
5 cloves garlic crushed with knife and chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Chop the portabella mushroom into 1 inch long pieces and keep aside. Crush the garlic cloves with a knife and chop them.

Clean the broccoli rabe leaves well and cut the end portions out so you are left with the leaves and a little part of the stem. Chop the leaves up after this. If you would like to take some of the bitterness out of the rabe, put the leaves in boiling water for a few minutes, take it off the flame, drain the water and run cold water through it to stop the cooking process.

In a pan, heat the extra virgin olive oil, add the garlic and saute for a couple of minutes. Add the mushrooms, some salt and pepper and continue sauteing. Add the leaves at this point, season it with the salt and pepper according to your taste and cook just until the broccoli rabe leaves are done. That's it! Serve hot as a side dish to your pasta and sauce.

Oh, and by the way, after lunch we visited the Teitel Brothers store and I was like a kid in a candy store, wanting everything I saw. Law of the 'wife' was established immediately and I was brought to my senses :-). But I still got a stock of great extra virgin olive oil (Edda), oil cured olives, sun-dried tomatoes, and fresh and aged cheese.

Health Rating: High

Ingredient Substitute/s: You can replace the rabe with spinach leaves, or the portabella mushrooms with regular mushrooms but the taste isn't the same as with portabella mushrooms. Ingredients are really what your imagination can come up with as long as they complement each other well.