Lunchbox Worthy, Main Attraction, Pork, Sandwiches

Sweet Italian Sausage and Broccoli Raab Melts

Broccoli Raab is a delicious leafy and slightly bitter version of broccoli.  It has tiny florets on top of thick stems and is sold in bunches.  I’ve been growing it in my garden for the last few years and it’s really easy: the seeds can be planted directly in the early spring, and when the plants get about 8 inches tall you can start harvesting the tops (the plant will continue to grow).  Like many of the greens I used to hate as a kid, they are addictive when braised with garlic and olive oil, and especially mouthwatering paired up with sausage and cheese.  The blanching step here greatly reduces the bitterness of the raab.  If you can’t find it, substitute kale or Swiss chard or even spinach (no need to blanch chard or spinach first).
Incidentally, did you know that your tolerance (and hankering) for Bitter increases as you get older?  Little kids are generally very sensitive to acrid tastes, but less sensitive than the grown-ups to sour.  That’s why they like to suck on lemons, and also why they will not like this.  Our kids just had the sausage on bread with ketchup and mustard.

Broccoli Raab and Sweet Italian Sausage Sandwiches

1 Baguette, cut into 4 pieces
1 bunch Broccoli Raab
1 T. Olive Oil
1 Onion, diced
1 clove Garlic, minced
1 lb. Sweet Italian Sausage, cooked and sliced
1 C. Shredded Mozzarella

Preheat oven to 400.  Slice each baguette chunk in half horizontally and place on a baking sheet.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add 1 T. salt.  Add the broccoli raab and cook for two minutes, until the stems are just tender.  Remove and drain in a colander, then rinse with cold water.  Chop into bite sized pieces.  Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in  a large pan over medium high heat and saute the onion.  After a few minutes, when the onions have softened but are not browned, add the garlic and the chopped raab.  Stir and cook a minute, adding salt and pepper to taste.  Remove from the heat.  Layer greens, sausage and mozzarella on the baguette halves.  Bake for about ten minutes, until the cheese has melted and is beginning to brown.