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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Rabe and chicken sang'wich

Photos and text by KARA DiCAMILLO/ News contributor
While broccoli is in its name, don’t let broccoli rabe fool you. It doesn’t taste like broccoli, nor does it look like broccoli. It’s actually more closely related to the turnip family because of its dark, leafy tops. Also known as rapini, you can sometimes spot a broccoli-like cluster appearing here or there, but it won’t ever become a head.
Broccoli rabe is mostly seen in Italian cuisine, but it has become more popular in cooking and can even be found at your local food store. Perhaps it’s because it’s a great source of vitamins, potassium, and it has many cancer-fighting elements.

I have always sautéed broccoli rabe with garlic and then served it either as a side dish or mixed it with pasta, mostly because I don’t know what else to do with it. So this week I incorporated more flavors alongside this leafy vegetable by making a panini. Using grilled chicken, white beans and sharp provolone, the traditional sautéed broccoli rabe was kicked up a notch between two slices of crusty bread.
These Panini’s are easy, but there are a couple of steps. You can make the broccoli rabe and the white bean spread ahead of time and keep it in the refrigerator. I think this sandwich would be delicious with prosciutto as well and, if you want to keep it a vegetarian dish, try a grilled Portobello mushroom instead of the chicken.
Grilled Chicken and Broccoli Rabe Panini
Serves 2
1 bunch of broccoli rabe (about a pound)
Quarter cup of olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons of lemon juice
Freshly cracked pepper
2 chicken breasts, pounded thin and grilled
4 tablespoons of white bean spread (recipe below)
2-4 slices of provolone cheese
Crusty bread, such as Italian or ciabatta
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the broccoli rabe. Cook for about 2 minutes, or until wilted, drain well and coarsely chop it.
Heat the olive oil in a medium-sized pan over medium-high heat and add the garlic and red pepper flakes. When the garlic begins to become fragrant, add the broccoli rabe and sauté for about 2 minutes to incorporate the flavors. Add the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Heat your panini press (or oven) to 400 degrees. Slice the bread in half and begin building the sandwich by spreading two tablespoons of the white bean spread on one slice of the bread and top with the broccoli rabe, the chicken breast, and then finish with the provolone cheese. Brush the outside of the sandwich with olive oil. In your Panini press, press until the sides are crispy and the cheese has melted, about 3 minutes. Slice in half and enjoy.
White Bean Spread
Makes about 1 cup
1 can of Great Northern white beans, rinsed
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon of rosemary, minced
Freshly cracked pepper
Blend all of the ingredients in a food processor until smooth. This is also delicious when used as a spread on crackers or crusty bread.