Food & Drink

Trio of Early Summer Vegetables as Toppings for Bread or Crostini

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Trio of Early Summer Vegetables as Toppings for Bread or Crostini - Sautéed Broccoli Rabe, Mushrooms and Baby Fennel Salad Credits: Craig Thiebaud
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I made this basic dish for a neighborhood gathering last week and it seemed to be a hit.  A couple neighbors even asked for the recipes of the various toppings.  The stars here are ingredients that I either purchased directly from the Farmer’s Market in Summit or received from the farm via the Just Farmed program out of Westfield.  I showcased local, seasonal ingredients:  broccoli rabe, baby fennel, spring onions, and mushrooms.  I also utilized three different cooking techniques:  roasting, sauteing, and marinating raw vegetables.  In doing so, the flavors and textures of the three dishes really became distinct, unto themselves.  This dish can be completed easily within an hour if time is utilized properly.  The vegetables can be made ahead of time as all three are served either warm or at room temperature.  Serve with toasted bread drizzled with olive oil and accented with salt and pepper or simply serve with fresh, crusty bread cut thickly so that it can stand up to the heaviness of the toppings.

For the mushrooms:

Ingredients:

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I used button and cremini mushrooms, but this will work with any mix or single mushroom type you prefer.
Ingredients:
2 small packages mushrooms of your choice
1 shallot (or half a yellow onion...I used a shallot )
Few sprigs of thyme
Few fresh chives
Few sprigs of Italian parsley
Olive oil
Maldon salt (any flaky sea salt will work)
Freshly ground pepper

Preparations:

  • Preheat oven to 375.
  • Cut mushrooms into halves or quarters depending on size so that each mushroom piece is approximately a similar size.
  • Cut the shallot into three pieces.
  • Place everything on a roasting pan or cookie sheet
  • Make sure flat side of mushroom is facing down on the pan.
  • Drizzle with olive oil lightly.
  • Place pan in oven and roast for 15 minutes.  Check for doneness.  Toss mushrooms around so other side is now touching the pan.  Cook another five to ten minutes or until the mushrooms have become nicely browned and slightly golden.
  • Remove from oven.  Add some salt and pepper. 
    Take shallot and thinly slice.
  • Place mushrooms and shallots in bowl, add a good amount of olive oil to bowl.  There should be enough so that the mushrooms can marinate in the olive oil and herbs.  However, they don’t need to be submerged in the oil.
  • Roughly chop chives and parsley.
  • Add the thyme, chives, and parsley to bowl and toss everything to coat.
  • Taste and adjust salt and pepper to your preferred seasoning level.
  • Let everything sit together for a few minutes so the flavors meld together a bit.
  • Serve warm or at room temperature.

For the Baby Fennel Salad:

Ingredients:

2 baby fennel bulbs plus fronds from one fennel bulb.  (If you can't find baby fennel, regular fennel would work too...you'd just need to marinate it a bit longer).
1 spring onion- julienned.   If you cant find a spring onion, a red onion would work.
2 small lemons (or one large)
A few sprigs of Italian parsley
A little less than 1/4 cup olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Preparations:

  • Thinly slice the fennel...as thin as you can.  If you are using regular fennel, slice it as thin as you can and then cut the slices in half again.
  • Julienne the spring onion.  If you are using a red onion, slice it in half and soak it in water for 15 minutes.  Dry it and then slice and place half in the fennel. 
  • Add some of the fronds to the chopped fennel.
  • Rough chop the parsley and place in fennel mix.  Squeeze lemon juice into the fennel mix.  Mix well to coat.  Add the olive oil and mix well again.
  • Season w sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
  • Taste salad and adjust seasonings as necessary.  Add a touch more oil if you think it's too lemony. 
  • Let the mixture sit for about 30 minutes, stirring every now and again to recoat the vegetables.  If you used a regular fennel bulb, let it sit 45 minutes to an hour in the lemon and olive oil...regular fennel has stronger taste and has harder texture and the extra time will mellow all that out.

For the Sautéed Broccoli Rabe:

Ingredients:

1 Bunch broccoli rabe
3-4 Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, plus a bit more for drizzling
¼ Cup of water
Flaky sea salt and red pepper flake

Preparations:

  • Heat a pan to medium heat (about 3 minutes).  Add the olive oil to the pan.  Add a small pinch of red pepper flakes to the pan.
  • Add broccoli rabe to pan immediately afterwards.  You should hear some sizzle and the pan should be slightly smoking at this point.
  • Sautee the broccoli rabe for a couple minutes, turning occasionally to avoid burning, though a little bit of browning is just fine. 
  • If you have a large bunch of broccoli rabe, cook it in batches so that it all has an opportunity to have contact with the hot pan to sear before moving to adding the water.
  • Add water to the pan, a little at a time to steam it a bit.  The broccoli rabe should appear a vibrant green color at this point.  Cook another minute or two until the greens are wilted but the broccoli portion stills a bit firm.  If the greens start to change from the vibrant green color, take them off the heat immediately.
  • Remove broccoli rabe from pan with thongs, being careful to not take too much water from the pan.  Place on a cutting board to cool.
  • Once cooled enough for to touch, dry with a paper or kitchen towel, and rough chop the broccoli rabe into large, but still bite size pieces being careful to keep the broccoli heads in tact as much as possible.
  • Season with flaky sea salt and drizzle with a bit of olive oil to taste.

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