Broccoli rabe is a Mediterranean vegetable with a pleasantly bitter flavor that’s best showcased in simple preparations. This easy sauté is a perfect example of how to cook broccoli rabe to bring out its best quality. Embellished with plenty of garlic and toasted pine nuts or almonds, this broccoli rabe recipe is a quick year-round side dish.
What is broccoli rabe?
Popular in Mediterranean cuisine, broccoli rabe, a leafy vegetable, is known by many names including rapini and Italian broccoli, and is alternatively spelled raab.
Despite having “broccoli” in its name, it isn’t a cruciferous cousin of regular broccoli, but rather, a relative of turnips and mustard greens. Broccoli rabe isn’t generally eaten raw and is best showcased in simple sautés like this one.
These greens grow in leafy clusters that present with narrow stems, abundant leaves, and tiny, broccoli-like dark green florets. All are edible, and usually, you need only trim away about 1/4 from the bottom of the stalks.
Swap-in: If broccoli rabe turns out not to be your favorite vegetable, try making this dish with broccolini.
How to Cook Broccoli Rabe
To temper the bitterness, broccoli rabe can be blanched prior to further preparation, but for those who love it, the bitterness, which is fairly mild, is pretty much the point. Try it both ways to see what your palate prefers.
This simple recipe following will go into more detail on best way to cook broccoli rabe — or at least, my favorite way! But if you’re looking for a few simple tips, here are the basics:
- Trim any woody ends from a bunch of broccoli rabe and cut into large bite-sized pieces. Cut any thicker stalks in half lengthwise to ensure even cooking. Place in a colander and rinse well.
- Heat a large skillet or stir-fry pan. Add chopped garlic to your heart’s content (chopped shallots are great, too) and sauté over medium-low heat for a minute or two, or until golden.
- Stir the broccoli rabe. Sauté until bright green and tender but still firm over medium heat for 5 to 8 minutes, adding small amounts of water as needed, just to keep the skillet moist (if you have a bottle of white wine open, that adds extra flavor).
- Season with salt and pepper (or red pepper flakes). Serve straight from the pan or transfer to a covered serving dish.
That’s it in a nutshell. If you want to add pine nuts or almonds, you can dry-sauté them first in the same skillet, then set aside. Adding a small amount of raisins is a traditional Mediterranean touch that tempers broccoli rabe’s strong flavor.
Easy Garlicky Sautéed Broccoli Rabe
Embellished with plenty of garlic and toasted pine nuts or almonds, this sautéed broccoli rabe is a quick year-round side dish.
- 1 pound broccoli rabe
- 1/4 cup pine nuts or 1/3 cup slivered almonds
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 to 5 cloves garlic, minced
- Salt and freshly ground pepper (or red pepper flakes) to taste
- Lemon wedges for serving, optional
- Trim any woody ends from the broccoli rabe and cut into large bite-sized pieces. Cut any thicker stalks in half lengthwise to ensure even cooking. Place in a colander and rinse well.
- Heat a large skillet or stir-fry pan (the same one you’ll be using to sauté the broccoli rabe). Add the nuts and toast over medium-low heat until lightly browned and fragrant, stirring very frequently (keep an eye out, you don’t want to burn those expensive pine nuts!) Remove to a bowl and set aside.
- Heat the oil in the same skillet or stir-fry pan. Add the garlic and sauté over medium-low heat for a minute or two, or until golden.
- Stir the broccoli rabe. Sauté over medium heat until bright green and tender but still firm, 5 to 8 minutes, adding small amounts of water as needed, just to keep the skillet moist (if you have a bottle of white wine open, that works, too!)
- Season with salt and pepper, then transfer to a serving dish or platter or serve straight from the pan. Scatter the toasted nuts over the top and serve at once. Pass around lemon wedges for individual servings, if you'd like.
Variation: Add 1/4 to 1/3 cup dark or golden raisins for a traditional Mediterranean touch.
You might also enjoy …
Skillet White Beans with Broccoli Rabe & Mushrooms
Penne with Broccoli Rabe and Garbanzo Beans (Chickpeas)
See more plant-forward salads & sides.
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