While shoveling down a dish of Pizzeria Mozza's broccoli rabe with chiles and vinegar on a recent trip to Los Angeles, I should have stopped and considered a little more thoughtfully how to re-create the dish, but it was so good, I couldn't slow down. The vegetables were cooked al dente and served at room temperature; they had a subtle, bitter edge mixed with a tingle of heat finished with a smack of vinegar. I came close to ordering a second portion and kind of kicked myself when I got home for not following through. I've been thinking about it ever since.
When I went to make this dish at home, I couldn't find any broccoli rabe at the farmers' market, but I did find young romanesco, which I scooped up, figuring it would do until I could get hold of some broccoli rabe. What I came up might not make it onto the menu at Mozza, but it's delicious, fast, and easy. The recipe would be great to try with broccoli rabe/rapini (blanched first), broccolini, Chinese mustard greens, or even dandelion greens, and in any case, look for thin, long stalks. And if I'd had a wood-fired oven to roast the romanesco in, I certainly would have gone that route.
This is one of those recipes with so few ingredients that the quality of each matters a lot. If you've been hesitating to use that fancy bottle of sherry vinegar hiding in the back of your cupboard, now's the time to liberate it! If your container of chile flakes has been sitting in your spice rack since the last presidential administration, treat yourself to a fresh one. You'll be glad you did!
Cut the romanesco so that the stalks are not more than 1/2-inch thick. Scatter the pieces on a rimmed baking sheet and toss with the garlic, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
Roast the romanesco for 12-15 minutes, tossing the it once or twice, until it turns bright green and is slightly al dente.
Remove from the oven and allow it to cool slightly.
Toss with 3 tablespoons of the vinegar and 1/4 teaspoon chile flakes. Allow to cool a little more. Add more vinegar and/or chile flakes and/or salt to taste. Drizzle with olive oil and serve at room temperature.