Most of us eat our broccoli, but what about our broccoli rabe (pronounced « rob »)? Broccoli rabe, also called rapini, is often referred to as « baby broccoli, » but that’s just not true. Surprisingly, the leafy vegetable is more related to a turnip. The stems of broccoli rabe are quite bitter, which is why it is not eaten raw (cooking reduces the bitterness). The buds have a nuttier flavor and aren’t as bitter as the stems. If you like mustard greens and collard greens, we bet you’ll love broccoli rabe. Broccoli rabe is used most in Mediterranean cooking.
macaroni and cheese recipe not only uses broccoli rabe, but leeks, another underused vegetable. This is a grownup mac and cheese recipe, though we think the kids may love it, too. For this broccoli rabe and leek macaroni and cheese, you’ll need a short pasta, olive oil, leeks, broccoli rabe, heavy cream, shredded sharp cheddar cheese and panko breadcrumbs. If you can’t find broccoli rabe, substitute about three bunches of chopped broccolini.
Leeks hold a lot of sand in them, so be sure to wash your leeks well after slicing. Serve this baked mac and cheese as a
vegetarian main dish or a side dish with chicken, beef, pork or lamb. This recipe would be delicious on steak night beside that ribeye.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 6 to 8
- 16 ounces short dry pasta (fusilli, elbows, penne, ziti, etc.)
- 7 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
- 3 large leeks, white and pale green parts only, halved lengthwise, washed well and thinly sliced
- 2 bunches broccoli rabe
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 3 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (divided)
- 1 cup panko
Here’s how to make it:
- Cook the pasta to just al dente according to package directions. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water.
- Heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot. Add the leeks and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until leeks are soft and just starting to brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the broccoli rabe a little at a time, stirring to combine, and allow each addition to wilt a bit before adding the next. Season with salt and pepper. Continue to cook once all the broccoli rabe is added about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat.
- Stir the pasta, cream, 2 cups of the cheese and reserved pasta water into the broccoli rabe-leek mixture. Season with more salt and pepper, if needed. Pour the pasta into a 3-quart baking dish.
- In a small bowl, stir together the panko and remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Sprinkle it over the pasta and then top with the remaining cheese.
- Bake the macaroni and cheese in a preheated 425-degree F oven until the top is a rich golden brown, about 30 minutes.
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