Broccoli Rappi has gotten quite popular in the past 15 years in the United States. Before that it was relegated to the side dish section of the menu at Italian restaurants. Most of the time it's prepared by simply sauteing in garlic and oil. When I was growing up in Sicily, broccoli rappi was not cultivated there, that is because its wild cousin, cavuliscieddi, flourished (and still flourishes) throughout the countryside with minimal help from man. Cavuliscieddi literally means "little cabbages" in Sicilian. I imagine this is because it has a pungent and bitter taste similar to that of cabbage. Cavuliscieddi is actually more bitter and tastier than broccoli rappi, but it is unavailable in the US as far I know unless you smuggle some seeds out of Sicily and plant them in your yard. So broccoli rappi is the next best thing to cavuliscieddi in the states. One of my favorite ways to prepare broccoli rappi is with a little anchovy, but since I became vegan I had to come up with another way to get the same great taste. I replaced the anchovy with dulse (a sea vegetable) and a nutritional yeast sauce. I have to admit this came out pretty good. I almost want to say it's better than with anchovy! If you're going to serve with pasta, cut up broccoli rappi into 1-1/2" pieces (as instructed below). If you're going to eat as a main dish or side dish you can leave it full length or just cut in half after trimming.
1 lb bunch of broccoli rappi, washed, trimmed and cut into 1-1/2 pieces
10 ounces peeled canned tomatoes, chopped
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon dulse flakes
hot pepper flakes to taste
sea salt and pepper to taste
nutritional yeast sauce
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
2/3 cup water
I like to use a large stir fry pan or wok for preparing veggies like broccoli rappi as these pans are quite large and their shape really focuses the heat, so that you can cover them with a lid after sauteing and allow the tougher stems to cook through. Otherwise you may have to pre-cook the broccoli rappi prior to sauteing if the stems are particularly thick or tough. Start out by making the nutritional yeast sauce in a small frying pan. Mix nutritional yeast and water and heat through on low heat. The sauce will thicken and take on the consistency of a cheese sauce. Meanwhile heat olive oil in a stir fry or saute pan and add garlic. Brown garlic, add broccoli rappi and quickly toss to coat with oil on high heat. After about 3 minutes the broccoli rappi should be crisp tender and you can add the tomatoes. Heat on medium flame for about 5 minutes, covering if necessary to cook through the stems. Add dulse flakes, and the hot and black peppers to taste. You may not need to add sea salt since the dulse flakes provide a salty taste (without the high sodium). Turn off heat and mix in the nutritional yeast sauce. Toss with pasta, like penne, or serve as main or side dish.
I mentioned the whole cavuliscieddi story above to show that we forget how people really ate in the "old country." I honestly thought we ate broccoli rappi in Sicily, but my mother reminded me that it was in fact cavuliscieddi. We equate foods like meatballs, veal and chicken parmigiana, prosciutto, sausage, pizza etc. with being Italian (and they are!), but up until recently these foods were sparingly consumed by Italians living in Italy. The Italian diet was plant-based relying on vegetables, fruit, legumes and semolina wheat (and polenta and rice if you were from the north). I once asked my dad how much red meat he consumed when he was growing up in Sicily (he is now in his late 60s) and he said they only had it for special occasions, perhaps three times a year.
BTW - my husband cleaned his plate and went back for seconds when I made this the other night. He would have had more if I made more.