Thursday, February 18, 2010

Rapini with Garlic & The Pelican

Loved the rapini we had at our art deco hotel on South Beach, the Pelican, which has a very good Italian restaurant.  The Pelican Cafe is right on Ocean Drive, so our table was outside, a real treat for us.  We were perched above the sidewalk, across the street from the beach and Atlantic ocean.

Their food was fantastic.  I am not exaggerating.  Once we found out how good it was, we just ate there. No decisions ---and that made our vacation more relaxing.  When we go back to South Beach, we will eat there again.

This is South Beach.
It is interesting mix of tourists ---lots of Europeans --- as well as locals seeking the neon night life ---we were next door to Gloria Estafan's restaurant and disco --- SoBe is not a quiet place. 

South Beach is filled with restored Art Deco buildings ---

and good restaurants, from little places that locals go to, to expensive hoity-toity ones with fancy cars being valet parked. 

It has cruise ships coming and going from the Port of Miami. Over 3.5 million passengers a year.

We even saw a photo shoot going on, like on America's Top Model, which made me laugh.

Great people watching.

I haven't been able to stop thinking about the rapini we ordered as a side dish the last night we were there.  It was so simple, but so good!  So, I tried to make it at home last night.  Had some success, but it just didn't compare to The Pelican's.  Nonetheless, I am glad that I now have a new veggie dish to add to my repertoire.

It is easy to do, especially because I bought the pre-chopped, pre-packaged rappi at Wegman's, and adapted their recipe on the bag.

As background, rapini or broccoli raab, often called rappi around here, is a popular vegetable in Mediterranean dishes.  I looks like skinny broccoli, but with more leaves, and underdeveloped buds.  It is slightly bitter, and stands up better to cooking than broccoli which can turn to mush.  It is very good for you. 

The Wegman's way of cooking it requires blanching it before sauteeing, which I found to be a pain in the neck, i.e., waiting for the water to boil, having to drain it, etc. When I blanch and drain, I think of all the good vitamins lost going down the drain in the cooking water.   Next time, I am going to do some research in my Italian or Alice Water's cookbooks for an alternative way --- or perhaps I could microwave it before sauteeing? 

Rapini with Garlic

1 bunch (about 1 pound) rapini, stem ends trimmed and discarded, rough chopped
olive oil for cooking
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
Grated cheese to sprinkle on top (Parmesan, Percorino Romano, or Grana Padano)

Bring a pot of salted water to boil. 

Blanch rappi for 2-3 minutes.

In a saute pan (I just used the same pot I used for blanching), heat olive oil on medium (don't use high heat for this dish or you will burn your garlic).  Add garlic and cook briefly (10 seconds).

Add drained rappi, add a little salt and pepper, and cook, stirring until all the liquid is gone and the rappi is heated through and starting to become fragrant and dry and slightly browned -- you will smell it as it gets done ---don't let your garlic burn --- add more olive oil if necessary. 

This took me about 4 minutes to finish the rappi because mine was very wet.
Sprinkle it with cheese.

I served it as the base for Proscuitto-wrapped Halibut which I have previously posted.

view from our penthouse, lucky upgrade 
At the Pelican, we were upgraded to the penthouse after a sleepless night, due to a jet-lagged guest clomping around upstairs in what Tom called "hobnail boots," pacing back and forth all night long.  Our first room was already very fancy, but now we had the use of the party deck on top of the hotel.  Very cool. 

Loved the kooky retro details throughout.

The Pelican is a small boutique hotel, owned by the Diesel clothing company,

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