Pomp & Circumstance.
Speech. Speech. Speech.
March from Carmen.
It was graduation day at CrabCake2's high school. For the third year in a row he has been part of the orchestra for the ceremony. Given the timing and parking constraints, it's just easier for SSSal or me to drive him over and stay for the event.
As CC2 has gotten older we've come to know more and more of the graduates. There was the senior girl who helped with his middle school cross-country team, she the last of the family to attend this school. Her mom, alternately ecstatic and perplexed by the fact that for the first time in twenty-six Septembers, she won't be commuting there.
There was the fellow orchestra pit musician. A friend of two years now heading off to Chicago but offering an all too tenuous promise to return for next year's musical.
There was another senior girl, a friend for the last five years, one of his first friends at the school, walking across the track, to the stage and onto college in Illinois. There was her sun-glassed father, standing off to the side, hearing the applause while staring into the thunderous silence of an empty nest.
I tried to find a bittersweet recipe to commemorate the occasion. Broccoli Rabe with Almonds & Raisins was the best I could do. Broccoli Rabe is a sporadic visitor in these parts, so I jump on it every time I find some. The original Giada recipe called for pine nuts, but what we thought were pine nuts at the back of the pantry were actually blanched almonds. No problem. Please enjoy...
Broccoli Rabe with Almonds & Raisins
adapted from Everyday Italian by Giada DeLaurentiis
2 TBSP pine nuts or blanched almonds
1 bunch, approximately 12 to 16 ounces, broccoli rabe (rapini)
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
1/3 cup golden raisins
In a small frying pan over medium-high heat, toast the blanched almonds until golden brown and fragrant. It's important to toss the almonds frequently once they start browning in order to stop them burning. Approximate cooking time: 7 minutes.
While the almonds are toasting, prepare an ice bath for the blanched broccoli rabe. Fill a large bowl with ice cubes and cold water and set aside.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. When boiling, add the broccoli rabe, working in batches if necessary. Blanche for 1 minute. Remove from the boiling water and plunge into the ice bath to stop the cooking process.
Reserve 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid.
Drain the rabe and set aside.
Using a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, and saute until golden, about 2 minutes.
Add the rabe, raisins, a 1/4 teaspoon of salt and toss to coat.
Add the reserved liquid and cook until the stems of the rabe are tender, about 5-7 minutes.
Season with salt to taste. Just prior to serving, toss with the toasted almonds.
There you go crablings. This dish has a somewhat bitter flavor, offset perfectly by the sweetness of the golden raisins. It's more of a refined, adult taste, but since you just graduated, you can handle it.
Until next time, remember you can do it, you can cook.