I grew up mostly in the Southern U.S. (courtesy of the U.S. Army), while my husband is basically 100% Italian. This dish is inspired by our very different backgrounds: pecans are quintessentially Southern, and broccoli raab is a classic Italian vegetable. Broccoli raab (a.k.a., broccoli “rabe”) is a bitter green vegetable in season starting in the fall. It’s commonly paired with fennel sausage in Italian-American cooking, but it’s also delicious as a side dish for pork and chicken.
1/4 cup pecans, chopped
1 large bunch broccoli raab
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed with the back of your knife and roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more, to taste)
1 teaspoon lemon zest (Meyer lemon zest is really good if you have on hand)
Lemon slices for serving (or Meyer lemon slices)
- Toast the pecans in a dry, heavy skillet over medium-high heat until just fragrant. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Remove the tough lower stems of the broccoli raab. Pick off and discard any yellowed or wilted outer leaves.
- In a medium pot, boil 2 quarts of water. Add a generous pinch of kosher salt and the broccoli raab. Boil for 4-5 minutes, or until the stems are just starting to feel tender. Remove the broccoli raab to a bowl, leaving a bit of water clinging to the vegetables.
- In a large, non-stick skillet, heat the extra virgin olive oil and the garlic over medium-high heat until the garlic is golden in color and very fragrant, about 2 minutes (do not let brown!). Add the broccoli raab with a bit of the cooking water still clinging to it, a pinch of kosher salt, and the red pepper flakes.
- Turn the heat down to medium and saute, stirring occasionally, until the broccoli raab is very tender (this depends on how large and tough the stems are).
- Remove from heat and stir in the pecans and the lemon zest. Taste and correct for salt.
- Serve warm or at room temperature with lemon wedges on the side.