Friday, April 23, 2010

Broccoli Rabe and Sausage Bread Pizzas

You know how fond I've become of our precious whole-wheat pizza dough, so much so that I've almost stopped looking for other recipes to try (almost! I'm open to others!). As easy as it is to prepare, for this weeks Friday Night Pizza, we didn't haul out our food processor to make it, instead opting for a rustic, hole-y loaf of ciabatta bread we picked up from a local shop!

Even though we gained a bit of time by skipping out on making pizza dough, it was definitely eaten up with the preparation for these lavish Broccoli Rabe and Sausage Bread Pizzas. I don't mean to sound like it took all evening to make this, but there are a fair amount of steps and dirty dishes for a pizza!

Broccoli rabe (which may also be called rapini in your market) tends to have a bitter quality to it that some people dig, but for us, it hasn't quite won us over. To draw a good amount of that out, we took our large bundle of greens, trimmed away the tougher stems and gave it a short three minute stint in a pot of salted (be generous!) boiling water. Drain away the water and once the greens have cooled a bit, press out any excess liquid so it doesn't leech out and sog the ciabatta.

Even though these bread pizzas are baked once all the toppings are added, you'll want to give it a head start for a couple of reasons - the pieces will hold those additions better and it will keep a crunchier texture. This is done by taking the halved and split loaf, arranging the pieces on a rack set over a baking sheet and placed under the broiler. Don't walk away once you put this in as you can go from lovely toasted slices to blackened rocks in a manner of seconds! The rack may seem fussy, but this allows the air to flow all around the bread, keeping the bottoms crisp as well.

For an extra dose of spice, I used about three links worth of hot Italian turkey sausage, which we browned and crumbled in a hot skillet, though sweet Italian would work just as well. To make use of the same skillet, we scooped out the cooked sausage, added a drizzle of oil and tossed in scandalas amounts of minced garlic (okay, so that may be a bit dramatic, but it sounded good!) to heat through. One hefty pinch of crushed red pepper is sprinkled into the garlic, making the pan ready to spice up those now not-as-bitter pieces of broccoli rabe. To give the greens a fancy note that makes you go "hmm, I can't quite pin point whatever that is, but I like it!", we took a little nugget of nutmeg and added a few fresh grates of it in.

Instead of slathering a red sauce on the bread, we thinned a cup of ricotta cheese with enough milk to give it a sauce-like consistency, then seasoned it with a few dribbles from our bottle of extra-virgin olive oil, lively fresh thyme, a touch of salt and plenty of fresh ground black pepper. With that as a canvas on each quarter of bread, we divided the garlicky broccoli rabe over the portions, followed by the crumbled sausage and cheese of choice, shredded provolone! It takes just a couple more minutes under the broiler to melt the cheese and we were ready to dig in!

With a crusty outside, this could just as well be a knife-and-fork pizza, but since the bread wasn't baked for any length of the time, the inside retains some softness, making it just as easy to pick up and munch on. Our loaf was on the larger side to begin with, giving us four monstrous servings, and we were plenty stuffed by the time we finished our quarters, but darn it all if I can't get the thought of attacking the leftovers tomorrow for lunch out of my mind!


  1. Love the idea of thinning out the ricotta into a sauce!


  2. Broccoli rabe and sausage are a personal favorite of mine and I have eaten them just about every way except for on a pizza! This looks delicious.

  3. This looks delicious -- the only thing I would change is to exchange spicy peppers for the sausage!

  4. Your can use a paring knife to peel the tougher skin from the stems and steam in a pan with salted chicken broth. You can start with a little olive oil and garlic in the pan first before adding the rabe and then some chicken broth. Doesn't taste so bitter when cooked this way.

  5. Quinn - It was a tasty surprise!

    Joanne - Thanks!

    Annie - Spicy peppers sound fantastic!

    John - Good notes!

  6. I too love pizzas and stuffed bread, and I find there are so many ingredients to work with. Broccoli Rape or Cima di Rapa as we call them in Italian are one of my favorite vegetables.

  7. This looks delicious! LOVE broccoli rabe/rapini!