Steven Redzikowski’s Recipe for Broccoli Rabe Grilled Cheese and Tomato-Pepper Soup
A comfort-food classic grows up in this recipe from Colorado chef Steven Redzikowski for grilled cheese sandwiches with broccoli raab and a chili-laced tomato soup
By Kitty Greenwald in the Wall Street Journal
SOMETIMES IT TAKES a calamity to bring what’s really important into perspective. That’s how it worked, anyway, back in 2011, when Steven Redzikowski opened his restaurant OAK at Fourteenth in Boulder, Colo. “Almost immediately we had a crazy fire,” he said. “It was just hell, but nine months later we reopened. The community rallied around us and it’s been like that ever since.”
The Chef: Steven Redzikowski
His Restaurants: OAK at Fourteenth in Boulder, Colo., and Acorn in Denver
What He’s Known For: Wood-fire cooking in an easygoing atmosphere. Elevating the neighborhood restaurant without sacrificing warmth or conviviality.
To this day, Mr. Redzikowski maintains a heightened sense of his restaurant’s role in the life of his neighborhood and a firm commitment to providing his diners food that welcomes them back over and over again. Case in point: this recipe for grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup. Mr. Redzikowski’s final Slow Food Fast contribution, it takes a comfort-food classic to another level with a filling of cheddar, ricotta and Parmesan, plus broccoli rabe for just a bit of bitter bite. And while you might imagine it impossible to make tomato soup any more warming than it already is, the chef does just that with the addition of Fresno chilies and piquillo peppers.
Just as soothing as the soup and sandwich combo of your childhood and yet as surprising and thoughtfully executed as a really good restaurant dish should be, this is the kind of cooking Mr. Redzikowski’s loyal customers have come to count on. “If you do the staples right,” he insisted, “there is nothing better.”
Broccoli Rabe Grilled Cheese and Tomato-Pepper Soup
Total Time: 30 minutes Serves: 4
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 Fresno chilies, stemmed and seeded
- 6 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1½ tablespoons fennel seeds, roughly smashed
- 2 cups chicken stock or water
- 2 cups drained jarred piquillo or other roasted red peppers
- 3 cups whole canned tomatoes
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ pound broccoli raab [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rapini] , chopped
- ¼ pound grated sharp cheddar
- ¼ pound grated Parmesan
- ¼ pound ricotta
- 8 (½-inch-thick) slices country, sourdough or ciabatta bread
- 3 tablespoons butter
1. Heat oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Sweat chilies and garlic until soft, about 30 seconds. Add fennel seeds and sauté until aromatic, about 30 seconds more.
2. Add stock, piquillos and tomatoes and increase heat to medium-high. Simmer until flavors meld, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a blender (or use an immersion blender) and purée until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Keep soup warm until ready to serve.
3. Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water, blanch broccoli rabe until bright green and tender, about 2 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer broccoli rabe to a colander, then run under cold water. Use a kitchen towel to squeeze all water out of broccoli rabe and pat dry.
4. In a mixing bowl stir together broccoli rabe and cheeses. Season with salt to taste. Spread mixture on 4 bread slices, then top with remaining slices.
5. Melt half the butter on a griddle or large sauté pan over medium-low heat. Toast 2 sandwiches until bread is golden brown and cheese is melted, about two minutes per side. Repeat with remaining butter and sandwiches.
6. Halve sandwiches and serve with bowls of tomato-pepper soup.