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.
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.
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:
- 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.
- After the rapini is wilted, drain and transfer it right into the skillet with the olive oil and sauté it with the garlic.
Garlicky Broccoli Rabe Recipe Steps
This recipe requires just a few recipe steps — and ingredients. Here’s how to cook your broccoli rabe:
- Trim the stem ends and blanch the broccoli rabe in a large pot of salted water that’s going at a nice boil.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
Love Italian rapini and other leafy greens? You’ll also love:
- Tomato, Kale + Chickpea Stew
- Spanish Garbanzos and Greens
- Broccoli Rabe Pasta With Italian Chicken Sausage
- Alice Waters’s Long-Cooked Broccoli
Broccoli Rabe, Italian Style
- 1 large head broccoli rabe, rinsed and stem ends trimmed
- Kosher salt (I use Diamond Crystal)
- 3 tablespoons good olive oil
- 5 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 generous pinch hot red pepper flakes
- 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 a lot of the bitterness out.
- Roughly chop the 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.
- Add the broccoli rabe. Cook, stirring often, until very soft and tender (about 4 to 5 minutes). PRO TIP: Make sure the garlic does not darken or burn, or the entire dish will taste acrid. 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 up to about 1/2 teaspoon more salt.