This is earthy preparation of broccoli rabe with white beans (cannellini) and mushrooms is good served on its own in shallow bowls with crusty bread, or over pasta or polenta. If you love the Mediterranean combo of beans and greens but aren’t a fan of broccoli, swap in broccoli or broccolini.
It’s hard to be neutral about broccoli rabe. Due to its mild bitterness, you either love it or you don’t. If you do love broccoli rabe, you can swap it in for escarole or mustard greens in most recipes.
More about broccoli rabe
Broccoli rabe is leafy vegetable that’s popular in Mediterranean cuisines. It’s known by many names, including rapini, Italian broccoli, brassica rapa, and is alternatively (though not frequently) spelled raab. Despite its best known name —broccoli rabe, it’s a relative of turnips and mustard greens, and not common broccoli.
This dark green vegetable grows in leafy clusters that present with narrow stalks, abundant leaves, and tiny, broccoli-like florets. All are edible. aWhile some recipes I’ve seen call for starting to cook the stalks before adding the leaves and florets, it’s easier simply cut the stalks lengthwise into narrower segments, so that all the parts can be added all at once into whatever kind of pan being used.
To temper its slight bitterness, broccoli rabe can be blanched, but for those who love it, the bitterness is pretty much the point. The bitterness is fairly mild. Try it both ways; see what you think. Broccoli rabe isn’t generally eaten raw and is best showcased in simple sautéed dishes like this one.
Complete the meal: This hearty skillet of greens and beans, accented with tomatoes and briny olives, doesn’t need much more for a full meal. A simple, colorful tossed salad is all you need to round out the meal. Add a crusty bread if not serving over pasta or grain.
Recipe adapted from Wild About Greens by Nava Atlas. Photos by Hannah Kaminsky, BittersweetBlog.com.
- 8 to 12 ounces broccoli rabe
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 to 3 shallots cloves or 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 8 ounces cremini (aka baby bella) mushrooms, cleaned, stemmed, and sliced)
- 1/4 cup dry white wine or water
- 15-ounce cans canellini (large white beans)
- 2 cups diced fresh, flavorful tomatoes, or one 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes (try Italian-style)
- 2/3 cup pitted cured black olives, halved
- 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Several leaves fresh basil, sliced, optional
- Trim about an inch off the bottoms of the broccoli rabe stalks, then cut into approximately 2-inch sections (if the stalks are thick, or feel a bit tough, cut them in half lengthwise before cutting into the 2-inch sections).
- Heat the oil in a deep skillet or stir-fry pan. Add the garlic and shallots and sauté over low heat until golden, about 2 minutes.
- Add the broccoli rabe and wine. Cover and cook until bright green, about 2 minutes, then add the mushrooms, beans, tomatoes, and olives. Simmer gently for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the broccoli rabe is tender but retains its color.
- Stir in the parsley, then season with salt and pepper. Serve at once on its own in shallow bowls or as suggested in the headnote. Garnish each serving with a little basil, if you’d like.
Variation: if you're not a fan of broccoli rabe, use broccoli or broccolini in its place.
If you like the Mediterranean beans & greens combo, you may also enjoy …
Here are lots more delectable vegan main dishes.