4-in-1 Broccoli Rabe with Roasted Tomatoes and Peppers

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Photo Kateryna Odyntsova

Kateryna Odyntsova

STRATEGY SESSION: This recipe features several of my favorite interventions for making healthy food taste better: low-temperature or “slow” roasting (tomatoes), high-temperature roasting (peppers) , and pooling oil. The goal of all 3 is to maximize flavor with minimal fat. In addition, the final dish exhibits glycemic load moderation in that broccoli rabe has a lower carbohydrate density and glycemic index than either the tomatoes or peppers.


Because I can’t stand cooking under pressure, I love recipes whose components can be prepared in advance at a leisurely pace. I’m willing to spend Sunday afternoon in the kitchen if I can live off the proceeds during the week.

This work style has evolved over many years and a number of my recipes bear its stamp. There’s a glimpse of it in Fennel with Garlic and Parsley, and more than a glimpse in Salad of Roasted Beets, their Greens, and Chives. But you get the full monty in this 4-day extravaganza, culminating in a kind of Italian stir-fry. Aside from its being a delicious explosion of anti-oxidants, this recipe generates 4 different vegetable dishes that can be served over 4 nights with a parade of proteins.

Here’s how it works.  I make the tomatoes on Sunday morning because the slow roasting takes a couple of hours and I’m usually at home.  I  sprinkle half of them with fresh herbs and half with salt only. I save the plain ones for the final dish and serve the herbed ones Sunday night with broiled lamb chops or roast chicken. Monday, I roast 3 red and 3 yellow bell peppers. I hide 1 of each and serve the remaining 4 with capers and anchovies as part of an elaborate antipasto platter. Tuesday,  I blanch 2 bunches of broccoli rabe. One bunch goes into the fridge and the other  goes into a skillet with olive oil, garlic, and red pepper to accompany veal chops or osso bucco. Wednesday night, I pull out my colorful stash and throw everything together with a little olive oil, garlic, and hot pepper. In a second skillet, I sauté some shrimp with garlic and parsley.  These 10 minutes taste like 10 hours! And, if I have some of this leftover, so much the better: one more dinner I won’t have to think about.

Serving suggestions:  As I mentioned above, I like it with shrimp with garlic and parsley, but it’s also delicious with broiled, grilled, or roasted lamb,  chicken, or Cornish game hens.

Note: A friend of mine dislikes broccoli rabe for its bitterness. Well, it is bitter, but the natural sweetness of the tomatoes and peppers tone it down.

Slow-Roasted Tomatoes

recipe_slow-r-tomKateryna Odyntsova

Reserve half of the tomatoes for the final dish, and make sure they are seasoned with Kosher salt only.

  • Olive oil spray
  • 2½ pounds plum (Roma) tomatoes, cored and halved lengthwise
  • Kosher salt for sprinkling
  • Chopped fresh thyme  or rosemary leaves for sprinkling, optional
  1. Preheat the oven to 200° F. Spray a nonstick rimmed baking sheet or jelly roll pan with olive oil. Place the tomatoes on the baking sheet cut side up and season generously with the salt. Sprinkle HALF of the tomatoes with the thyme or rosemary, if using. Roast for 2 to 4 hours, depending on size, until the edges of the tomatoes are shriveled, but they remain juicy. They should lose about 50% of their weight by the end of roasting, but should not become hard, dry, or blackened. (Reserve half of the tomatoes (salt only, no herbs) for the final dish. and Refrigerate in a covered container.)

Makes 4 servings (including the tomatoes reserved for the final dish)

Per serving: Calories 60, 1 g total fat, 0 g saturated fat,  0 mg cholesterol, 13 g total carbohydrate, 3 g dietary fiber, 3 g protein, 26 mg sodium.

Roasted Peppers with Anchovies and Capers

Reserve 1 roasted red pepper and 1 roasted yellow pepper for the final dish.

  • 3 large red bell peppers
  • 3 large yellow bell peppers
  • 8 anchovy fillets
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons capers
  • Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling, optional
  • Red or white wine vinegar for drizzling, optional
  1. Roast the peppers by thoroughly charring the skins under the broiler. Transfer to a paper bag and allow to steam for 15 minutes to loosen the skin. Remove stems, skins, seeds, and membranes. Tear the peppers along the natural dividing lines into manageable lobes and place in a plastic container. The peppers will release their juices as they cool. (Reserve 1 roasted pepper of each color for the final dish. Refrigerate in a covered container.)
  2. Place the anchovy fillets in a sieve and rinse under cold water. Pat dry between layers of paper towels. Reserving the pepper juice, remove the peppers from the container and set aside. Toss the anchovy fillets in the pepper juice to moisten. Arrange the peppers on a plate skinned side up. Lay the anchovies over the peppers and sprinkle with the capers. Spoon any remaining pepper juice over them, or drizzle with oil and vinegar, if using. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Makes 4 servings (not including the 2 peppers reserved for the final dish)

Per serving: Calories 92, 2 g total fat, 0 g saturated fat, 7 mg cholesterol, 16 g total carbohydrate, 7 g dietary fiber, 7 g protein, 357 mg sodium.


Broccoli Rabe with Garlic and Hot Pepper

Reserve half of the blanched broccoli rabe for the final dish.

  • 2 bunches broccoli rabe, about 1¼ pounds each, ends trimmed, cut into 2″ lengths
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • ¼ teaspoon hot red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Bring a large pot of salted boiling water to a boil. Add the broccoli rabe and cook 3 minutes. Transfer to a cold water bath to stop the cooking. Drain and dry between layers of paper towels. (Reserve half the broccoli rabe for the final dish. Refrigerate in a covered container.)
  2. Place a large deep nonstick skillet over medium heat. When it is hot, add the oil in a little pool. Do not spread it around. When the oil is hot, add the garlic and pepper flakes to it. Cook about 1 minute, stirring gently without dispersing the pool. When the garlic is fragrant, spread the garlic-oil mixture over the entire pan. Add the broccoli rabe and toss gently to coat. Season generously with salt and pepper and cook about 5 minutes until heated through. Serve immediately.

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  • November 30 2009, 9:38 AM
    Sally Gaudaitis

    Looks great, have the day off today, may try.

  • December 1 2009, 9:42 PM
    The Healthy Apple

    Wow; these recipes are amazing…I just made the broccoli rabe with garlic and pepper and it was delish! Great recipes, thank you and keep up the great work.

  • December 1 2009, 10:18 PM

    I’m so glad you liked it!! This recipe is one of my favorites, and I’m delighted to share it.

  • December 3 2009, 2:37 PM

    Because of kidney disease, I am trying to follow a low-salt diet. I wonder if you could suggest and combinations of herbs or spices that would make the food more palatable.

  • December 3 2009, 4:07 PM

    I have very little experience with low sodium diets myself, but I know that hot peppers (e.g. cayenne) can stimulate the palate in ways that distract one from the absence of salt. So, I’d try adding a little cayenne wherever you can and see how that goes. In addition, I would invest in some low-sodium cookbooks (or take some out of the library) . Here’s a list from Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss_0_15?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=low-sodium+cookbooks&sprefix=low-sodium+cook which you may find helpful. The people who are most expert at this kind of substitution are those who live with it every day.
    Good luck.

  • December 27 2009, 5:34 AM

    Looks delicious and just nice for health conscious people. Also an amazing way to serve broccoli. We love broccoli so much!

  • December 27 2009, 8:24 AM

    I’m so glad you think so!! It really is tasty and- if you make it over several days as I suggest- it’s VERY easy. The tomatoes require time, but almost no work; the peppers require work, but not much time. And the broccoli itself is a breeze. The final step takes only 5 minutes- at the end of which- you have something really special.

  • December 27 2009, 4:03 PM
    Matteo fagin

    I’m glad you kept everything so simple and let the ingredients do their thing. Everyone seems so be so over the top with layers of flavors these days.

  • December 27 2009, 4:32 PM

    I’m so glad you agree! Whenever possible, I try to let ingredients speak for themselves.

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