November 18, 2013

Broccoli Rabe and Kalamata Olive Pesto

When I’m craving bitter greens, I turn to broccoli rabe, one of my favorite vegetables.  I think kalamata olives and broccoli rabe are such a great pairing.  One of my go-to meals to eat on a weeknight is Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe and Kalamata Olives.   A little while back I made Kale Pesto which was a unique way to eat kale, so I did the same with my favorite bitter green.

This pesto is wonderful on thick pappardelle or stirred into creamy risotto.  There should be enough pesto to make both the papardelle and risotto recipes below.  If you have leftover pesto, you can mix it into your scrambled eggs in the morning or use it as a dip for crunchy Italian bread, or spread it on your grilled cheese.  Be sure to check out my nifty trick for pitting olives.


Broccoli Rabe and Kalamata Olive Pesto

1 bunch broccoli rabe, tough stems removed
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
6 kalamata olives, pitted (optional)

1.  Wash the broccoli rabe and dump it right into to a large pan with 1/4 cup water, turn the heat on to medium/high.

2.  Keep turning the broccoli rabe until all the leaves are wilted.  Transfer them to a colander to drain.

3.  Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the dry pan and heat it up over medium heat.  Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add the broccoli rabe back into the pan and toss well to coat it with the olive oil and garlic.

4.  Add the olives, cook for two more minutes and then turn off the heat.

5.  Transfer everything in the pan to a food processor and blend while adding the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil until everything is smooth like a pesto.

Papardelle with Broccoli Rabe and Kalamata Olive Pesto

While you make your Broccoli Rabe and Kalamata Olive Pesto, bring a salted pot of water to a boil and toss in some dried or fresh papardelle.  Once the pasta is al dente, reserve a 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta and place it back into the pot, tossing it with enough pesto to coat the pasta.  Do this over low heat, adding the reserved pasta cooking water to loosen the pesto, mix well and take the pot off the heat.  Serve the pasta hot.  Top with grated Parmesan cheese.

Broccoli Rabe and Kalamata Olive Risotto

Makes 6 servings

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large shallot, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
4 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth (or veggie broth)
3/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup Broccoli Rabe and Kalamata Olive Pesto
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
Coarse salt, to taste

1.  In a pot, heat up the broth and keep hot on low heat while preparing your rice. 

2.  In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Saute the shallots until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the rice, stirring until well coated and slightly sticking to the bottom of the pan, 1 to 2 minutes. Then add the wine and stir until it’s absorbed, about 1 minute. Season with a big pinch of salt.

3.  Add about 1 cup of warm broth to the rice. Cook, stirring frequently, until absorbed. Continue adding broth, 1 cup at a time, stirring constantly until most of the liquid has been absorbed, about 25 minutes total. You may not need all the broth.  The rice should be cooked until tender but not mushy; keep tasting it for doneness and to make sure it’s seasoned enough.

4.  When the risotto is just done, add in the pesto.  Stir vigorously for a minute which will ensure a creamy but tight consistency.

5.  Remove pan from heat. Stir in Parmesan if you want and serve immediately.


  1. Mmmm, now I've got to try that! Love broccoli rabe and olives, great idea as a pesto!

  2. Thanks! The risotto was especially good with the pesto. Would be good with some sweet Italian braised sausage on top as a meal. I hope you have a great, tasty Thanksgiving!