I love delicious things piled on top of crunchy things.
I used to think that the technical term for this was “crostini.” But as it out turns out, a platter of crunchy circles garnished with, well, pretty much anything can also go by the name bruschetta, tart, or tartine.
With some research, I did discover that bruschetta derives from the Italian word “bruscare” (meaning “to roast over coals”) and more often refers to broad slices of toasted rustic bread, while crostini are typically made with baguette rounds.
But let’s be honest: As long as something is scrumptious, do you really care what it’s called?
I went to a music festival this past weekend and, upon entering, immediately gifted myself a golden-brown corndog zig-zagged with tangy yellow mustard. The vendor could have handed it to me and said, “This is Susan,” and I would have gulped it down nonetheless.
Though many do dub the classic Italian-style shareable of crusty baguette slices piled with juicy tomatoes, garlic, and basil “bruschetta,” there’s not really anyone policing these scenarios.
If there were, they would be members of an elite squad known as the Special Vegetables Unit.
That being said, let’s clear the air right now and just agree that a crispy vehicle decorated with something tasty can go by many names.
In all of my years of developing recipes and creating menus for events, crostini (my preferred designation) have always been a go-to for me. Not only are they the perfect party handheld (leaving your extra set of digits free for beer-grasping), but the flavor combinations are practically infinite.
Let’s talk toppings.
Broccoli rabe, or less commonly “broccoli raab,” is traditionally served as a side dish. But in this recipe, the lanky veg gets a fancy garlic makeover and becomes the main attraction of our tartines.
Not to get too caught up in names again, but if you’re reading this and wondering the difference between the fluffy-headed veggies that all start with “brocc,” here’s a quick rundown:
Broccoli rabe, which we use in this recipe, is also referred to as broccoletti, Italian broccoli, rabe, and rapini. It boasts a bitter flavor, tiny flower clusters, dark green leaves, and long stems. Though it resembles broccoli, botanically-speaking it’s more of a cousin to turnips.
Broccolini is the same thing as broccolette. Imagine a cross between traditional broccoli and leafy gai lan (Chinese kale).
If you want to dig even deeper into the bountiful world of broccoli, pop over here to our sister site Gardener’s Path and get schooled in the varieties of this cruciferous veg.
Though you could roast the rabe for a slightly smoky flavor, I think it shines best when it’s blanched (briefly cooked in boiling water), dunked into an ice bath so it keeps its crispness and color, and then sauteed in a garlicky pool of olive oil with crushed red pepper flakes.
A smear of goat cheese would add some smooth texture to the bottom layer of our tartines, but sharp, salty shavings of Pecorino can also do the trick, highlighting the nutty notes in the baguette instead. Thinly sliced rings of Thai bird’s eye chilies bring the fruity heat.
All you need to bring is an empty stomach.
For a fresh, earthy app that makes the perfect two-biter, try these broccoli rabe tartines with sharp Pecorino and fiery chilies.
- 1 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt, divided
- 1 bunch broccoli rabe (about 10 oz), rough chopped
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2 medium cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1 small baguette (about 9 inches long), cut crosswise into 12 equal slices
- 2 ounces Pecorino, shaved with a vegetable peeler
- 1 red bird’s eye chili, very thinly sliced into rings
- Fill a large saucepot with water over high heat and bring to a boil. Season the water with 1 teaspoon of salt, and then blanch the broccoli rabe for 1 minute. Strain the broccoli rabe and then immediately transfer it to an ice bath for 30 seconds. Drain and place on a clean dish towel to dry.
- In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper flakes and cook until the garlic is lightly golden, about 1 minute.
- Add the broccoli rabe and season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Saute until tender, about 2 minutes. Add the lemon juice, and then remove the pan from heat.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Spread out the baguette slices on a baking sheet, drizzle them with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and season them with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Bake until lightly golden brown, 6-8 minutes.
- To assemble the tartines, arrange the toasted baguette slices on a platter. Top each one with a pinch of the broccoli rabe, and garnish with the shaved Pecorino and red chilies.
- Category: Appetizers
- Method: Baking, Stovetop
- Cuisine: Italian
Keywords: tartines, crostini, broccoli rabe, appetizer
Cooking By the Numbers…
Step 1 – Chop
Rough chop the broccoli rabe florets and stems. Thinly slice the garlic cloves.
Step 2 – Blanch
Fill a large saucepot with water. Place over high heat and bring to a boil. Season the water with 1 teaspoon of salt, and then blanch the broccoli rabe for 1 minute.
Step 3 – Transfer to an Ice Bath
Strain the broccoli rabe in a colander and then immediately transfer it to a large bowl filled with ice water for 30 seconds. This will immediately stop the cooking process and keep the broccoli rabe’s vibrant green color and a bit of crunch.
Drain and place on a clean dish towel to dry.
Step 4 – Saute
In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and the butter over medium heat.
Add the garlic and crushed red pepper flakes and cook until the garlic is lightly golden, about 1 minute.
Add the broccoli rabe and season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.
Saute until tender, about 2 minutes, add the lemon juice, and then remove the pan from heat.
Step 5 – Slice and Bake
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Using a sharp serrated knife, slice the baguette on a diagonal into 1/4-inch-thick pieces.
Place the slices on a baking sheet, drizzle them with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, season them with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper, add toss until thoroughly coated.
Arrange the slices in one single layer and bake until light golden brown, 6-8 minutes.
Step 6 – Assemble
To assemble the tartines, arrange the toasted baguette slices on a platter.
Top each one with broccoli rabe.
Shave Pecorino on top.
Garnish with thinly sliced red chilies.
This Broccoli Rabe Will Do Your Body Good
The only thing better than a beautiful platter of food is one you can feel good about devouring. Thanks to broccoli rabe bearing loads of vitamin A, K, and C, these tartines are totally okay to keep all to yourself.
Need a few other ideas for sprucing up the standard crostini? Try bright lemon zest and freshly cracked pepper for a finishing touch.
If broccoli rabe is too bitter for your taste, swap in your green-vegetable-of-choice like kale, chard, or asparagus.
Longing for more canapé-like creations to add to your repertoire of delicious appetizers? Give these bomb two-biters a shot:
- Herb-Roasted Carrot Tartines with Pesto and Goat Cheese
- Olive, Red Pepper and Goat Cheese Crostini
- Camembert Cheese and Pistachio Basil Pesto Bruschetta
What’s your favorite way to enjoy this flavorful and nutritious vegetable? Twirled into pasta? Served as a side? Share your serving suggestions in the comments below! And don’t forget to give this recipe a five-star rating if you loved it.
Photos by Fanny Slater, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published by Shanna Mallon on December 5, 2013. Last updated: December 30, 2019 at 1:18 am.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Fanny Slater
Fanny Slater is a home-taught food enthusiast based in Wilmington, North Carolina who won the “Rachael Ray Show” Great American Cookbook Competition in 2014, and published her cookbook “Orange, Lavender & Figs” in 2016. Fanny is a food and beverage writer, recipe developer, and social media influencer. She was a co-host on the Food Network series “Kitchen Sink,” was featured on Cooking Channel’s longtime popular series “The Best Thing I Ever Ate,” and continues to appear regularly on the “Rachael Ray Show.”