Christmas Broccoli or Broccoli Rabe – Italy

To the Italians the holidays and food are synonymous. They go together like salt and pepper. Italians also love to feed others and any excuse to indulge in comforting Italian dishes is a time for celebration. The holidays are an especially good time to show others just how much they care with traditional food that will satisfy the tummy and the soul. Every region of Italy is known for its mouthwatering recipes and holiday traditions.

On Christmas Eve for instance, Italians serve a symbolic feast of lighter foods such as fish and other seafoods.

On Christmas Day, the food is simple and filling and includes a baked pasta dish such as ziti or Lasagna . This traditional menu gets its roots in Tuscany and neighboring parts of Italy. A light Tuscan wine and some bubbly water are the perfect companions to this simple, yet hearty meal.

A Tuscan Christmas Dinner
Appetizer: Antipasta
Main Course: Lasagna Bolognese and Christmas Broccoli
Desert: Pears and Homemade Almond Gelato

Serve a Simple Antipasta as an appetizer. I include proscuitto, and a cheese board of sliced provolone, locatelli and asiago cheese with a hearty Italian Bread and Extra Virgin Olive Oil for dipping accompanied by a variety of olives.

Christmas Broccoli (aka Broccoli Rabe)
Makes 6-8 servings
Preparation time: 30 minutes

· 2 lb broccoli rabe
· 3 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced lengthwise
· 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
· 1 teaspoon salt (preferably sea salt), or to taste

Cut off and discard 1 inch from stem ends of broccoli rabe. Cook
broccoli rabe, uncovered, in in a 6- to 8-quart pot of boiling
salted water until just tender, about 3 minutes, transferring with a slotted spoon to a large bowl of ice and cold water to stop cooking. Drain well.
Cook garlic in oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until garlic is golden, about 5 minutes. Add broccoli rabe and saute, tossing to coat with oil, until heated through, 3 to 5 minutes. Add salt to taste.

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