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Broccoli Rabe, Mozzarella, Anchovy, and Spicy Tomato Sauce

Joshua McFadden's riff on eggplant parmesan.

This is my riff on eggplant parmesan—the dish is as simple as that. I also think of it as a modern-day broccoli and cheese, so I guess what I’m saying is that it has classic appeal (and kid appeal). If you have fresh basil on hand, add some of that, too. And if you want to make this fully vegetarian, it’s fine to leave out the anchovy.


Makes 4 servings
  • 8 oz fresh mozzarella
  • + extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 5-6 anchovy fillets
  • 1/4 t red pepper flakes
  • 1 lb broccoli rabe, trimmed, chopped into quarters
  • + salt and fresh black pepper
  • 1 14-oz can whole peeled tomatoes


  1. Slice the mozzarella into 1/4-inch-thick rounds and arrange on paper towels. Cover with more towels and then set a heavy pan or sheet pan on top to apply moderate pressure. This will remove some of the moisture in the cheese and help it brown.

  2. Meanwhile, add a glug of olive oil to a large skillet over medium heat. Toss in the smashed garlic, and cook slowly to toast the garlic so it’s very soft, fragrant, and nicely golden brown but not burnt, about 5 minutes. Once toasted, break up the garlic cloves with a wooden spoon, add the anchovy, and let it dissolve into the oil. Add the red pepper flakes.

  3. Add the broccoli rabe and toss it around in the pan so it’s coated with the oil. Season with salt and pepper, and cook over medium heat until the leaves are wilted and the stems start to soften a bit, about 5 minutes.

  4. Add the tomato and shake the pan so it settles around the broccoli rabe. Crush the tomatoes with a spoon and cook until the broccoli rabe is fully tender and the tomato juice is reduced, 10 minutes more. The sauce should be thick and almost pasty, not watery.

  5. Heat the broiler. Arrange the broccoli rabe and sauce in a baking dish large enough to accommodate it all in more or less a single layer.

  6. Arrange the mozzarella on top, drizzle with olive oil until the cheese is browned and the casserole is bubbling slightly.

  7. Let cool for a couple minutes, top with a bit more olive oil, and serve hot while the cheese is melty.