Save that butter wrapper!
One of my first lessons in kitchen frugality was watching my mother unwrap her stick of butter for the butter dish, setting the wrapper aside. Once the green beans were cooked and drained, she placed them in the serving dish and topped them with the butter wrapper, to act as a cover to keep them warm and to extract as much of that remaining butter as possible. I was always amazed at how much butter flavor was still lingering in the creases of that little wrapper! This came from her being a little child in the Great Depression and growing up with every possible trick to save a dime or a bit of flavor. I bet your mother or grandmother had little tricks like this.
A little flavor goes a long ways
I think of this when I consider a recipe. Brown butter adds so much flavor to both savory and sweet dishes, but how much do we really need? Some recipes call for a lot.
So taking a page from my mom’s experience, I experimented with a favorite vegetable, broccoli rabe. We didn’t have this growing up because there were two vegetables only that my mother did not favor – asparagus and broccoli. I suspect she wouldn’t touch broccoli rabe or broccolini just because of its family association!
Good for you too!
But she should have, because it is loaded with great nutrition and flavor. Broccoli rabe can be used in any recipe you might use broccoli or broccolini. More bitter than broccoli, its stems are more tender, they don’t need to be peeled, but the flower head is considerably smaller. The leaves as well as the stalk, head, and flowers are all edible and delicious. Like other brassicas, this little vegetable is packed with nutrition, and is becoming more widely available. One serving contains only about 35 calories, 6 grams of carbs, 5 grams of fiber, 3.5 grams of protein, and is packed with phytonutrients, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals including calcium, iron, and potassium. It contains anti-inflammatory compounds and in linked to preventing cancer and heart disease and help control blood pressure. It’s a hard worker.
Just a bit of saturated fat
A little butter goes a long way, as my mother demonstrated, and a little browned butter even more so. After steaming the rabe, I gave it a quick sauté in brown butter mixed with fruity olive oil. The butter was definitely the dominant flavor, but offered only a modest amount of saturated fat to each serving, certainly within the heart-healthy guidelines.
There’s always a substitute, usually
Of course, if you don’t have any broccoli rabe, you can use broccolini or broccoli florets, it’s all good. As for nuts, any you love will do here, don’t make a special trip.
So much going for it
This is simple, fast, and very tasty. Serve it on a weeknight, or add to a meal with guests at the table. You can use this to top some pasta or rice and call it a meal.
In a time pinch, you can just steam the broccolini, place it in a serving dish, and top with a butter wrapper. Mom would be proud.
Brown Butter Broccoli Rabe with Macadamia Nuts
- 1 bunch broccoli rabe, reserve any flowers for garnish
- 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp. butter or vegan substitute
- ½ tsp. smoked Spanish paprika
- 1 tsp. honey
- ¼ cup chopped macadamia nuts
Chop off any brown stem ends of the rabe, then steam it just until tender. This will take about 7 to 8 minutes, but check. I do not blanch my broccoli rabe to remove bitterness because that is what I buy it for! The bit of honey I’ve added helps to balance it out.
While the broccoli rabe is steaming, heat the butter in a small saute pan and swirl until just starting to brown. Add the oil, paprika, honey, and nuts and continue swirling for a few minutes or so, until everything is fragrant and the nuts starting to brown.
Drain and plate and pour the nut mixture over evenly. Sprinkle with flaked or sea salt.
And just for silly fun, and thinking of broccolini, I was challenge by Nancy at The Elephant’s Trunk to write a food inspired reverse poem as outlined on The Pioneer Poem. The first words rather than the last rhyme, and the lines are limited to five syllables. Additionally, the first two lines must be repeated at the last, but reversed. Here’s my little attempt:
Peas green and fresh
Please the inner chef
Stone, nice and round
Bone with bits of meat
How about onion?
Now a little sage
Toss in potato
Sauce with dabs of heat
Carrot orange zest
Merit our applause
Beet? A sure delight
Sweet to tempt us more
Raddish, candy striped
Faddish, pink and bright
Teeny weeny fun
Beans a steady friend
Means we’ll have long life
Corn, the last this year
Horn of plenty star
Red peppers, so sweet
Bread to top it off
Please the inner chef
Peas green and fresh
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