Broccoli rapini is not related to broccoli. Its flowers do look like broccoli and, well, it has broccoli in the name, so I see how a person could be confused. It is related to the turnip. If this is the first time you have ever eaten broccoli rapini, be forewarned: broccoli rapini is bitter. Very bitter. Dumped on your wedding day bitter. And bitter is not a taste common to the American palate. Bitter is very common to the Chinese and Italians and as such rapini is popular in both those cuisines. You should give bitter a chance. It has a wonderful bite to it that can become addictive. The stems are the most bitter, so the less stem you use, the less bitter the dish.
Scallops on the other hand are sweet. They offer a nice counterbalance to the bitter rapini. It is very important that the scallops be dry before you cook them. It is also very important that you don’t overcook them. Nothing is better than a juicy, sweet scallop. Few things are worse than the erase like texture of an overcooked scallop. Be careful. If in doubt, undercook.
I served just scallops over rapini. If you feel you must have a starch, I suggest a simple couscous or orzo tossed in butter with toasted pine nuts.
Servings: 4-6Hardware: large pot, large bowl, colander, knives and a cutting board, kitchen scissors, paper towel or clean tea towel, zester, a small bowl, 2 skillets, tongs
Time: Prep: 15 minutes (includes blanching) Cooking: 15 minutes
- 1 bunch broccoli rapini (12-16 ounces)
- 1 tablespoon vinegar
- 1 small shallot
- 3 cloves garlic
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
- 1 orange
- 1 pound sea scallops
- Olive oil
- Salt & pepper
- Rinse the rapini and snap off the woody stem right below the flowers. Fill a large bowl or pot with ice water. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the vinegar and the rapini. Allow the rapini to boil for 4 minutes. Lift the rapini from the boiling water and plunge it into the ice bath to allow it to cool and to stop cooking. This process is called blanching. It keeps the rapini green when you sauté it later and it also reduces some bitterness. Pour the rapini into the colander and allow it to drain. You can blanch them up to a day before you need them. Just drain them thoroughly and keep them in a container in the fridge.
- Rinse the scallops and remove the side muscle. This is easier to do with the kitchen scissors. Pat them dry. Zest the orange into the little bowl. Then cut the orange in half. Set aside until later.
- Slice the shallot and garlic as thin as possible. Cover the bottom of one skillet in olive oil. Place it over medium heat and add the shallots, garlic, and pepper flakes. Cook until the garlic is fragrant (about 2 minutes). Add the rapini, tossing to cover the rapini in seasoning. Sauté the rapini until it is wilted, but still crisp. Remove from the heat and keep warm.
- Heat the second pan on high. Add the olive oil. Salt and pepper both sides of the scallops. Make sure the scallops are dry and that you don’t crowd them in the pan. Cook them in batches if you need to, because if you crowd them they will steam rather than sear. Place the scallops into the very hot pan. Allow them to sear, no more than 3 minutes. Don’t do anything to them while they are searing. No nudging, pressing, nothing. After 3 minutes flip them over and sear for 2-3 minutes on the other side. During the last few seconds of cooking squeeze the orange juice over the scallops. If you are cooking the scallops in batches, wipe the pan out and start over with every batch.
- To serve lay down a bed of rapini, top with the seared scallops and sprinkle with the orange zest.