I always thought broccoli rabe (also known as raab or rapini) was a baby stalk of broccoli, but I was wrong. Because I thought this was a baby vegetable, I expected it to be sweet and delicate. Nope. Broccoli rabe is a robust, slightly bitter green that holds up to some strong flavors. This relative to broccoli loves to be smothered in garlic and good olive oil. It is a favorite vegetable in Italy and Portugal and lends itself well to pastas, spicy sausage and nutty cheese like Parmesan Reggiano. It also makes a great addition to a sandwich or pizza.
Brocolli rabe is easy to cook, but usually requires a quick blanch in boiling water before you sauté it to make sure the tougher stem is cooked through. I left most of the stem on in this dish because we like to eat every bit of this healthy veggie. If you like a more tender green, remove the stem at the point where the leaves are growing. With its dark green color and robust flavor, you know this veggie is healthy for you. Dr. Axe listed it #2 on his list of Top 10 Superfoods because it’s, “packed with potassium, iron and calcium, dietary fiber and as well as Vitamins A, C and K. Broccoli rabe also contains lutein, which is an antioxidant that protects the retinas of your eyes from damage caused by free radicals.”
Along with the nutritional benefits of broccoli rabe, I love how it looks on a plate. It’s elegant and wild at the same time. This is a veggie that impresses. I served this batch with roasted pork loin and shallot, tarragon cream for our Sunday dinner. I like to go all out on the weekend and cook something that is out of the ordinary and has the bonus of leftovers. Usually it’s a perfectly roasted chicken. Sometimes it’s a duck. For this occasion I had a gorgeous organic boneless pork loin roast from Sea Breeze Organic Farm in Fort Pierce, Florida. A good roast deserves a great vegetable and broccoli rabe fit the bill.
Adapted from Maria’s Broccoli Rabe.
Trim off most of the broccoli rabe stem. Blanch in boiling water 5 minutes until it becomes bright green and slightly wilted. Remove from water with a strainer.
In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and pepper flakes and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the broccoli rabe and continue to stir and cook for 12-15 minutes until leaves are wilted and stems are tender.
This delicious dish with wild salmon and dill sauce paired with black Forbidden Rice and simple green salad is full of healthy, antioxidant-rich ingredients. It’s low in saturated fat and high in omega-3 fatty acids. The taste is luxurious. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed!
Salmon is one of my favorite fish, but I have been steering away from Atlantic farm raised salmon for a while now due to the environmental impact of the farms and health concerns from chemical additives. When I can find fresh, wild salmon, I jump to purchase it. If you don’t eat a lot of wild salmon, the first think you’ll notice it the color. It’s usually much darker. To get that familiar pink color in farmed fish, they actually have to add carotene to the feed. Wild salmon is also more flavorful; unlike the near tasteless farmed variety. It can get confusing choosing which type of seafood is safe and good for the environment, which is why I love the site, seafood.edf.org, for great information on what types of seafood are safe to eat.
One of my favorite parts of salmon is the skin. I could eat it just by itself. It’s chewy, oily, crispy deliciousness. And when I start to think about all of that oil, I remind myself that it’s GOOD fat. Yes, this is the part of the fish loaded with omega-3 fatty acids that reduce inflammation and may just lower your risks of chronic disease. So, embrace this fatty treat and revel in its goodness. If you are one of those people who peel your fish skin off in disgust, give it another try. It may just be that it wasn’t cooked properly. The skin should be seasoned well, and really crispy. There’s a technique to this, and it’s pretty easy to get results like the best restaurants.
I paired the fish with black rice, also known as Forbidden rice. This heirloom rice was once grown just for Chinese nobility and can now be found in 4 pound bags on Amazon. I love the dramatic color, and prefer the complex, nutty flavor and chewy texture of black rice to brown. It has virtually the same antioxidant-rich bran as brown rice, but with the added health benefits of anthocyanins, pigments that produce the dark color. According to a report presented at a meeting of the American Chemical Society, “Just a spoonful of black rice bran contains more health promoting anthocyanin antioxidants than are found in a spoonful of blueberries, but with less sugar and more fiber and vitamin E antioxidants,” said Zhimin Xu, Associate Professor at the Department of Food Science at Louisiana State University Agricultural Center in Baton Rouge, La.
With this dish, I also included a mixture of organic baby greens from the market. I love SUPERGREENS! from Organicgirl. It has a colorful and healthy mix of red chard, Swiss chard and arugula. Tossed in a simple vinaigrette; it’s an easy and healthy side.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
To prepare the salmon, season both sides with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the fillets to the pan, skin side down. Cook until lightly browned, about 3-4 minutes. Remove the filets from the pan and transfer them to a baking sheet, skin side up. Place the fish in the oven and cook about 5-6 minutes more, until medium rare in the center and flaky on the outside.
To make the sauce, combine yogurt, lemon juice, olive oil and dill. Season with salt and pepper
To prepare the rice, rinse under cold water. Saute shallots in olive oil until tender, but not brown, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and stir until fragrant, 1 minute. Add shallot mixture, rice, stock, salt and pepper to a rice cooker. This is the time to stick your finger in the pot and taste the seasoning of the stock to make sure it tastes good. Now close the lid and allow to cook roughly 35 minutes. When the rice is cooked, add the lemon juice and stir.
This recipe makes enough vinaigrette for a few salads. Use just a splash for the amount of vegetable in this dish and save the rest for later.
Whisk together ingredients in a large bowl. Toss salad greens in the vinaigrette and serve.
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This is a quick and delicious onion soup that doesn’t require any special ingredients. Use leftover chicken and you can have lunch or dinner made in about 20 minutes, without having to stand at the stove. The rich chicken broth and smooth, creamy cheddar is comfort food at its best, while the caramelized onions satisfy any French onion soup lover.
I whipped this up the first time for my husband while I was preparing to go on my first “girl’s night out” after having my now, 8-month-old baby boy. I didn’t realized how much a baby would change my life! Now that he’s crawling, my windows of “me time” have shrunk once again. Until lately, I was able to count on him taking a 2-3 hour morning nap, with another 1-2 hours in the afternoon. Now, I’m lucky if he sleeps 30 minutes. Instead of sleeping during the day, he has never-ending energy, wanting to crawl or climb on everything he can.
One meal that saves me time is a baked chicken. I try to cook one once a week. It’s easy to prepare, tastes incredible, and results in 10-12 meals for the three of us – plus leftovers for the dogs. The reason I get so much out of my baked chickens is because I save the bones and use them to make broth for soups. Add chopped chicken breast to the broth with whatever fresh vegetables you have on hand and you end up with a fresh, homemade soup that will wow anyone.
For this soup, the only fresh veggies I had left (time to shop!) were Vidalia onions. These onions have a high sugar content, making them the perfect choice for slow caramelizing. Any onion will do, though. Just chop them up and toss them in a pan with some olive oil. When they start to sizzle, turn the heat to low and let them slowly cook, turning them every now and then. You’ll see them shrink up and start to turn golden brown as the sugars and flavor are concentrated. When they are almost done, toss in your chopped garlic, keeping the heat low.
In a deep pot, heat the butter until melted. Add the flour and stir until bubbly, about 10 minutes. Stir the chicken broth into the butter/flour mixture and bring to a boil.
Now add your chopped chicken and caramelized onions to the broth. Cook for a few minutes and remove from the heat.
Add about ¼ cup of cream to the soup. You can substitute plain yogurt thinned with milk here if you wish. Finally, stir in the shredded cheese and parsley. Season with salt and fresh pepper.
Once a month we make a pilgrimage to Proper Sausages, Miami’s premier artisan sausage maker and butcher shop. Their handmade sausages are far from typical, with ingredients like New Zealand lamb, cognac and chanterelles. I usually just stock up on my favorite sausages, but this time I spotted some amazing Berkshire pork rib chops. These bone-in beauties were over an inch thick and beautifully marbled. Berkshire pork comes from a heritage breed of English black pig (from Berkshire, of course). Incredibly juicy and flavorful, this pork is part of the reason those Proper Sausages are so good.
Every now and then I splurge on some expensive, but hard to find grocery items. I would rather buy something a little pricey in the store and cook it up myself then go out and spend a fortune at a restaurant. We put on a movie, get cozy on the couch with the baby and enjoy a luxurious meal. Sure, it’s nice to get dressed up and go out, but when you have to schedule a sitter and have an early curfew; it makes going out a bit of a hassle.
Besides the sausages I keep on hand in the freezer, I usually don’t cook pork, mainly because it’s impossible to find organic, farm-raised pork in the supermarket. Because of the exceptional quality, I gave these chops a try, pairing them with creamy goat cheese polenta, grilled fennel and a sautéed apple. I was careful not to overcook them, browning them in a sauté pan before finishing them off in the oven. They came out perfectly juicy and incredibly flavorful — truly the best pork chop my husband and I have tasted.
These are cooked very simply, letting the quality of the meat stand out.Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F., and allow pork chops to come to room temperature. Pat dry and generously season the chops on all sides with smoked salt and pepper. Heat the oil on medium-high heat in an oven proof pan large enough to fit both chops. Add the chops to the pan and cook about 2 minutes on each side until brown. Place the pan with the chops in the oven for about 10 minutes until cooked through. Remove the chops from the pan and cover to keep warm.
You can use the pan drippings to make a sauce if you like (I didn't, but saved them for another meal). Just add about half a teaspoon of flour to the pan and your liquid of choice. This could be ½ a cup of cider, wine or stock. Stir in some seasonings like orange zest or peppercorns if you like. Once thickened and bubbly, season with salt and pepper for a delicious sauce.
In a heavy saucepan, bring water, milk, and salt to a boil. Slowly add the polenta while stirring. Reduce heat to low, and cook for about 15-20 minutes, stirring every few minutes to prevent the polenta from sticking to the bottom or clumping. When the polenta is thick and creamy, remove from heat. Stir in butter, pepper and crumbled goat cheese and stir until the cheese melts. Taste for seasoning and serve.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Trim and clean fennel and cut into thick slices or quarters. Arrange on a roasting pan lined with aluminum foil and drizzle generously with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to coat with your hands. Roast in the oven for about 30 minutes until the fennel is cooked and slightly brown.
Heat oil and butter in a pan over medium-high heat until bubbly. Season apples with salt. Cover and cook on the cut side only until nicely browned. This will take about 5 minutes.
Sauteed apple recipe Inspired by Real Simple magazine’s pork chops with sauteed Granny Smith apples