Briefly blanching broccoli rabe both mellows its bitter flavor and makes it more tender. It adds bright green color and fresh flavor to these beautiful crostini, which make a substantial appetizer. If you’re having guests on Christmas Eve, prepare the beans and crostini today and you’ll be able to assemble these in a snap on the day of the party. Store the beans, covered, in the refrigerator, and keep the crostini at room temperature in a sealable plastic bag.
Crostini with White Beans and Broccoli Rabe
1/2 baguette, cut into slices 1/4 inch (6 mm) thick
6 Tbs. (3 fl. oz./90 ml) olive oil, plus more for brushing
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 can (14 oz./440 g) white beans, such as cannellini beans
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 bunch broccoli rabe
Toasted pine nuts for garnish
Shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese for garnish (optional)
Preheat an oven to 350°F (180°C).
Arrange the baguette slices in a single layer on a baking sheet. Brush the tops lightly with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake until crisp and golden, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.
In a sauté pan over medium-high heat, warm 2 Tbs. of the olive oil. Add the beans, garlic and thyme and cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans have softened slightly, 2 to 3 minutes
Transfer the bean mixture to a food processor. Add the lemon juice and the remaining 4 Tbs. olive oil and a large pinch each of salt and pepper. Process until smooth. Set aside.
Bring a large pot three-fourths full of salted water to a boil. Have ready a large bowl of ice water. Blanch the broccoli rabe in the boiling water until bright green and crisp-tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the broccoli rabe to the ice water until cool, drain and then pat dry. Chop the broccoli rabe into 2-inch (5-cm) pieces.
To assemble, spread 1 Tbs. of the white bean puree on each baguette slice. Divide the broccoli rabe evenly among the baguette slices. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with toasted pine nuts and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Serves 6 to 8.
Williams-Sonoma Test Kitchen