Broccoli Rabe & Beef Heart may not sound like your classic comfort food recipe but this healthy recipe is loaded with many familiar flavors of my childhood. The lemon and capers help subdue the bitterness of the broccoli rabe while the beef heart sautéed in garlic and olive oil brings a meaty richness to the dish. Rustic dishes like this one remind me that simple quality ingredients can be turned into amazing recipes. If you're looking for a great weeknight meal this is a fantastic dish straight out of the old country.
Orecchiette pasta originated in the Apuila dragoon of southern Italy. The name comes from the shape of the noodles resembling a small ear. They are also sometimes called Elephant ears and You could also say they resemble contact lenses . My great grandfather actually came from the small southern Italian village of Bari in Puglia. My parents visited a few years ago and would watch the sweet Italian ladies hand rolling Orecchiette right there in the street. Now I must admit that I didn’t make my own pasta for this recipe but I did purchase a very high quality artisan whole wheat Orecchiette to use.
Broccoli Rabe also known as Rapini is a green cruciferous vegetable. The entire vegetable is edible including the stem, leaves and bud which resembles a broccoli floret. Broccoli Rabe has a slightly bitter taste and I must admit as a kid it was definitely not my favorite. As an adult I learned that enough olive oil, salt and Pecorino Romano can make the bitterness fade. If you don’t like Broccoli Rabe you can substitute kale, spinach or arugula.
Even though the stems are edible I prefer to trim off the thicker stems because it takes too long to cook. The best method for preparing broccoli rabe is to blanch it in salt water and olive oil in the same pot as the orecchiette then drain and sauté with the other ingredients. The secret is to put the broccoli Rabe in the pot once the orecchiette is halfway cooked that way both finish at the same time. Then I simmer the orecchiette and broccoli rabe with the beef heart, olive oil, lemon and capers. The briny capers combined with the acid in the lemon really balance out this dish. Sausage is more commonly served with this recipe but I prefer the beef heart for its high nutrient density.
Beef Heart is a very nutritious cut of meat and is high in folate, iron, zinc and selenium. So for any of my ladies out there that have an iron deficiency this is the dish for you. Beef heart is also a good source of the coenzyme (CoQ10). This antioxidant is said to help prevent heart disease and can also help boost one's immune system. I have a tasty beef heart meatloaf and Asian beef heart skewer recipe on my low carb website Culinary Lion. Ground beef heart is a great way to introduce this cut of beef without being overly intimidating.