Inviting some pals over to hang out can quickly turn stressful when you realize they’re going to expect some food. Before you reach for your phone to order delivery, take a few deep breaths. Homemade eats don’t have to be difficult. With original recipes from our Everyday Appetizers series, you can pull off showstopping starters without losing your cool.
With so many people singing the praises of toast, it almost seems like adding savory toppings to a slice of browned bread is a new technique. In truth, Italians have been doing it for hundreds of years. We think it’s time to reintroduce toast to some familiar flavors with this spicy and savory recipe.
About this recipe
The raw tomato-topped bruschetta usually seen on restaurant menus can be pretty disappointing if it’s not late summer, so we went for an all-seasons approach to the dish by using broccoli rabe, spicy Italian sausage, and plenty of Parmesan cheese. Because these ingredients all have a fair amount of heft, this recipe, which we developed with Andy Boy Broccoli Rabe, is best for days when you and your crew are feeling particularly peckish. Your taste buds will be pretty happy, too.
This recipe calls for blanched broccoli rabe, which you can prepare just prior to gathering the rest of the ingredients or well in advance, kept in the freezer. Broccoli rabe stands up really well to the frosty treatment, so it’s a good idea to load up whenever the veggie’s on sale. Then you can blanch and freeze it for longer-term storage. Just be sure to allow enough time for it to thaw.
Once you have your veggies and the rest of the ingredients ready to go, start by cooking the sausage until it’s nicely browned. We used a spicy version here, but you can use sweet Italian sausage if you’re more timid about the heat. Next, add some garlic, then a splash of cream. It might seem like an odd addition, but this little bit of dairy helps bind the final topping together while keeping it moist. Stir in the broccoli rabe and the sausage mixture is ready.
We often like to rub toast with a cut clove of garlic, but we skip it here because the sausage mixture already has plenty. Instead, we simply drizzle the sliced bread with a bit of olive oil before piling the sausage and broccoli rabe on top.
Next, finish each slice with a good amount of grated cheese. We used Parmesan for a little bit of nutty flavor, but a sharp pecorino is another good choice. After a quick trip to the broiler, these bruschetta are ready to eat.
The flavors in this dish are bold and slightly bitter, so a fruity red wine that isn’t too tannic is a fantastic choice. The New York Times said bottles like Chianti and Barbera are good choices with Italian sausage. White wine can work just as well, though. Food & Wine said crisp whites, such as Pino Grigio, help combat bitter greens and pungent garlic.
For beer drinkers, something crisp and quaffable is a good choice. Saveur suggested an Italian wheat beer with the robust combination of broccoli rabe and sausage. If you tend to lean more toward more bitter brews, try a white IPA. Yahoo Food explained this cross between a traditional IPA and witbier can stand up to bitter and salty flavors while offering a hint of fruitiness.
Cocktail connoisseurs might want to reach for something refreshing and fruit-driven. Try this strawberry rendition of a whiskey sour. You can also go for a citrus-based cocktail, like this limoncello concoction.
Italian Sausage-Broccoli Rabe Bruschetta
Feel free to use any type of crusty bread you like for this recipe. If it’s a larger loaf, simply cut the slices in half to keep them a reasonable size. This recipe serves 4 to 5.
- ½ pound spicy Italian sausage, casings removed
- 1 thinly sliced garlic clove
- 2 cups chopped, blanched Andy Boy Broccoli Rabe
- ⅓ cup cream
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- Salt (optional)
- 8 to 10 (½-inch-thick) slices crusty bread, toasted
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Directions: In a medium skillet set over medium-high heat, cook sausage until browned around edges and cooked through, about 5 to 6 minutes. Drain off all but 1 tablespoon of fat from skillet. Add garlic and continue to cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Stir in cream and let reduce until just beginning to thicken, 1 to 2 minutes. Add broccoli rabe and stir to coat. Stir in parsley. Taste and season with salt, if needed.
Preheat broiler to high. Arrange toasted bread on a rimmed baking sheet and lightly drizzle each slice with olive oil. Evenly divide sausage-broccoli rabe mixture among toasts, mounding slightly. Evenly sprinkle each toast with Parmesan. Transfer to broiler and broil until cheese is bubbling and beginning to brown, about 4 minutes. Serve.
See you back here next weekend.
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