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Broccoli Rabe, Italian Style

Great garlicky greens.

This garlicky sautéed broccoli rabe recipe makes a fantastic but simple Italian vegetable side. Rapini sautéed in good olive oil and garnished with hot pepper flakes, sautéed broccoli rabe pairs well with pasta, roasts, meatballs, and lots more. Plus: learn how to cook broccoli rabe so it’s less bitter.

Italian Sautéed Broccoli Rabe Recipe With Lots of Garlic

Meet This Sautéed Broccoli Rabe Recipe With Garlic

Broccoli rabe, or rapini, is a nourishing, slightly bitter green cruciferous vegetable. Broccoli rabe is well known in Italian cuisine.

Though not as common as broccoli or even kale, rapini deserves to be part of your green vegetable rotation. This broccoli rabe recipe is easy to prepare, makes a bright addition to the dinner table, and goes well with almost many pasta dishes or Italian main courses.

This recipe combines sautéed broccoli rabe with good amounts of olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes. The result, while simple, is just about perfect.

bunches of broccoli rabe with garlic

How to Cook Broccoli Rabe (and How to Get the Bitterness Out)

Some people love it, but others are put off by the natural bitterness of rapini. The sharpness can taste overwhelming if not prepared the right way.

Luckily, there is an easy way to get the bitterness out of broccoli rabe so the flavor tastes more rounded. Blanched broccoli rabe will still have a little bite to it, but the bitter notes will be a lot less aggressive.

You’ll also need to know how to cook broccoli rabe to make it soft and flavorful. This is a two-step process.

To cook this vegetable dish:

  1. Blanch the broccoli rabe in well-salted, boiling water. You only need to blanch the rapini for about 30 seconds to one minute. The broccoli rabe softens and wilts, as the salt counters the bitterness, making a milder overall flavor.
  2. After the rapini is wilted, drain and transfer it right into the skillet with the olive oil and sauté it with the garlic.

blanched rapini chopped with garlic

Garlicky Broccoli Rabe Recipe Steps

This recipe requires just a few recipe steps — and ingredients. Here’s how to cook your broccoli rabe:

  1. Trim the stem ends and blanch the broccoli rabe in a large pot of salted water that’s going at a nice boil.
  2. Drain well and chop. Heat the olive oil in a wide skillet. Add the garlic, then the broccoli rabe. Season and add some hot red pepper flakes, if desired.
  3. Sauté the rapini and garlic for several minutes, until fully cooked and still very bright green. Serve.

Do you take the leaves off broccoli rabe before cooking? What about peeling broccoli rabe?

I trim the bottom, cut ends off of the broccoli rabe, since they can become dry. But beyond that, everything is edible on broccoli rabe. Broccoli rabe leaves are edible, as are the stems and florets.

There is no need to peel the stems of broccoli rabe (as you would with regular, standard broccoli). The rapini stems are tender enough to eat without peeling.

broccoli rabe and garlic in sauté pan

What to Eat With Broccoli Rabe

This sautéed broccoli rabe recipe makes a classic side dish for many Italian recipes. My favorite ways to eat garlicky broccoli rabe is in a Philly-style hot roast pork sandwich, dripping with gravy and topped with sharp provolone cheese.

But if you don’t find yourself in Philly or in the mood for a roast pork sandwich, broccoli rabe makes an excellent side dish for many roast meats, as well as a classic Sunday tomato sauce and pasta and meatball dinner. You can also add broccoli rabe to cannellini beans for a satisfying vegetarian or vegan meal. A squeeze of lemon juice or garnish of red pepper flakes or parmesan cheese would not be amiss.

Italian Sautéed Broccoli Rabe Recipe With Lots of Garlic

Love Italian rapini and other leafy greens? You’ll also love:

Broccoli Rabe Recipe With Garlic

Broccoli Rabe, Italian Style

Italian green vegetables don't get better than this easy, classic broccoli rabe recipe: rapini sautéed with lots of garlic and olive oil, topped with red pepper. Plus: learn how to get the excess bitterness out of broccoli rabe.
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Course: dinner, Side Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Keywords:: broccoli rabe recipe, italian broccoli rabe, rapini, side dish, vegan, vegetarian
Servings: 4 to 6 people
Calories: 99kcal
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Ingredients

  • 1 large head broccoli rabe (rapini), rinsed and stem ends trimmed
  • Kosher salt (I use Diamond Crystal)
  • 3 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 5 large cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 generous pinch hot red pepper flakes

Instructions

  • Bring a pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add the broccoli rabe and blanch for about 1 minute, until wilted. Drain well.
    PRO TIP: Blanching the broccoli rabe in salted water not only keeps the color vibrant green, it also gets the excess bitterness out.
  • Use a cutting board to chop the drained broccoli rabe into 1" to 2" pieces and set aside.
  • Heat a large skillet with the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds, until slightly golden brown. Do not burn the garlic, or it will taste very acrid.
  • Add the broccoli rabe with a generous pinch of salt. Cook, stirring often, until very soft and tender (about 4 to 5 minutes).
    PRO TIP: Garlic getting a little too brown? Add a little water, a tablespoon at a time, and reduce the heat if necessary.
  • Adjust the seasoning and toss in a generous pinch of hot red pepper flakes and an extra glug of extra virgin olive oil, if desired. Serve the rapini warm or at room temperature.
    TIP: Depending on the saltiness of the water, you may need to add more salt.

Notes

This Italian sautéed broccoli rabe will keep for two to three days refrigerated in an airtight container. Reheat the rapini in a pan over medium heat with a little additional olive oil. 
You can serve this dish on its own (maybe with a garnish of red pepper, parmesan cheese, or pecorino-Romano on top), or incorporated into many Italian dishes. Toss the greens with pasta and Italian sausage, for example, or serve as a side with a Sunday supper like pasta and meatballs or baked ziti.  

Nutrition

Calories: 99kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Sodium: 500mg | Potassium: 59mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 0.1g | Vitamin A: 787IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 33mg | Iron: 1mg

Disclaimer: Nutrition information is provided for courtesy purposes only, and is an estimate not verified by medical or nutrition experts. Read the full nutrition disclaimer.

10 comments

  • 5 stars
    Just like my grandma (Italian) used to make. This is very authentic Italian or Italian-American.

  • The bitterness is precisely what makes broccoli rabe special. Why get rid of it?

    • Unpeeled

      Absolutely! I should have clarified that it does retain some bitterness and that essential flavor of the broccoli rabe — which I love — but does mellow it a little bit so it is not overly harsh.

  • 5 stars
    blanching is everything. thank you for making this so much better than I’ve been making it–hah!

  • 5 stars
    Easy to make. We served this with the baked Italian sausage and peppers which we also made from your website so double thanks!!

  • 5 stars
    Very helpful and informative and easy to make. Reminds me exactly of the Italian broccoli rabe I’ve had in NYC before.

  • 5 stars
    I make this regularly and will not use another method. Blanching in salted water first has been a game changer in making this soft and less bitter.

  • Shaunna

    This is so delicious with Italian sausage – CHEVALATTA, , good loaf of Italian bread., and you have a meal!

    Thanx!

    • Unpeeled

      You’ve absolutely got that right! Simple, perfect.

  • 5 stars
    Easy, delicious side dish that i served with pasta. I loved all of the garlic.

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