BROCCOLI RABE, SAUSAGE AND PIZZA. Sounds amazing and it is and it’s a classic. Long before the tomato was introduced from the Americas to Europe Pizza was made using whatever the cook found in their pantries and gardens. Most pizza reflected the local ingredients and this pizza we will make is one of the oldest Pizze in Napoli. Naples, storied home of the modern pizza (tomato, mozzarella, basil) is also the land of the FRIARIELLI which is grown all around Naples is almost revered with a religious fervor. I’ve never been able to ascertain whether it’s the same as our American Broccoli Rabe or a member of the family of similar greens (Cima di Rape being another one used in Puglia and Basilicata, Broccoletti in Rome) but in the USA I’ve never seen it marketed as Friarielli. The popularity of Broccoli Rabe in America is due to this religious cult of worshiping the delicious bitter greens that the Italian Americans from Southern Italy, Naples and Puglia in particular brought with them during the great Immigration from 1880-1930. Every ItalianAmerican grew up with Broccoli rabe, marketed by the Andy Boy Corp who planted the seeds in California and began a huge business off of his forms of Broccoli. Look at the label on your broccoli rabe. Most likely it’s the Andy Boy brand, named after one of the founder’s sons. The founders were immigrants from Messina, Sicily, Stefano and Andrea (Andrew) D’Arrigo. The family still owns the company. We owe our American broccoli and broccoli rabe eating to them. There’s a 95 year old photo of Andrew D’Arrigo, “Andy Boy” the face on the familiar label. How many of those labels did I see my mom take off of the Broccoli Rabe or Broccoli before she washed (and washed, and washed and washed) them prior to slicing them down for her various dishes. That bitter, sulphury aroma of broccoli rabe cooking with garlic, peperoncino and olive oil is one of my most favorite sentimental food smells. Brings me back to Mom’s kitchen with the first whiff. Friarielli grow in certain regions around Naples and up into Avellino and Benevento, neighboring Provinces. They are hallowed in those parts and great care and pride is taken with their preparation for eating. This pizza is part of La Cucina Napoletana, the great cuisine of Naples which has given birth to much of what is part of the global and the Italian American cuisines. Sausage and Broccoli Rabe pie Naples style traditionally is without tomato. That proves it’s an ancient dish. The ingredients and preparation are simple and straight forward. The Broccoli Rabe (Friarielli).
An old Napoletana saying is ” A SASICC E’ A MORT RE FRIARIELL”. Sausage will die without Broccoli Rabe. They are meant for each other!! Let’s make A’PIZZ…
1 Pizza Dough (homemade or bakery bought, don’t use the commercial brands, too many additives)
Risen for 24 hours. Press into a well Olive Oiled pan till it hits all the sides of a standard baking 1/2 sheet. I prefer the heavy gauge restaurant supply ones, They heat up more evenly.
1 head of Broccoli Rabe, well rinsed and dried, then chopped discarding the thicker stem ends.
2 sliced cloves of Garlic
3 Sweet Italian Sausage with fennel Links , remove the meat from the casings.
2 cups of diced PROVOLA Cheese, or a blend of diced Mozzarella and Provolone.
While the dough is resting in the pan, heat 2 tbs of olive oil, add the garlic and peperoncino (to taste), pinch of salt. When the garlic is fragrant add the Broccoli Rabe and cook this for at least 10 minute on medium. Add 1/8 cup of water and just continue to cook until the broccoli rabe is soft. Make sure the water has evaporated. Drain.
In another pan heat 1 tbs olive oil and add the sausage meat. Cook over medium stirring ocassionally until the meat is almost cooked. Drain and add to the Broccoli Rabe. Pre heat oven to 500 degrees F.
Drizzle some olive oil over the pizza dough and then place one cup of the cheese over the top. then the Sausage and Broccoli Rabe mixture. Then the remaining cup. Place on the bottom rack of the oven and bake for 10 minutes, Then rotate the pan and bake for an addition 5-10 minutes being careful not to over cook. When done slice into squares and let it sit for a few minutes. Serve. FANTASTIC!
The lead picture is the first time I had Friarielli. We were on a family vacation on a MSC Italian Line cruise around Italy. The cruise ship kitchen was decidedly Napoletana and the daily foods reflected this. Other regions were represented as was the rest of the world’s cuisines, but the bulk of the meals were Napoletana and southern Italian. I asked a server if I could talk to the chef or a cook and get this recipe for that picture. I was shown the Friarielli which were on my bucket list and was told how to make this pizza. I was also told how the sausage and friarielli combo is near and dear to Napoletana hearts and I shared how my ItalianAmerican world back in the USA is in love with that combination as well. So you’ve just enjoy part of that wonderful vacation around Italy my family had by reading this and hopefully you’ll create this beloved pizza in your own kitchen.