I wonder why the bitter taste is an Italian favorite. I’m Italian-American and I seem to have the gene: Campari and broccoli rabe are my two bitter favorites.
Sometimes when I open a new bunch of broccoli rabe I can smell the bitterness sailing up from the bunch without even sniffing close. I can open the refrigerator and if there’s a bunch of broccoli rabe in there and I can smell it. And even though most times I’m buying Andy Boy brand, not every bunch is so strong. It’s hard to know what makes the difference from bunch to bunch: sun, rain, soil, month?
The little bud-like clusters are the best parts. I like to include some of the thick stem pieces, too. I cut it all into a little larger than bite-sized pieces, leaving out the really thick stems. (I cut those off from the entire bunch before removing the twist tie.) It’s very easy to make and I’ve adjusted my cooking style for broccoli rabe over the years.
I used to get a saucepan boiling with water and plunge it in. Let it cook until almost tender. Then drain, and saute in a skillet with olive oil, thinly sliced garlic, and red pepper flakes until cooked through and tender/al dente to the bite.
Now I just use a large skillet with a little water in it (about a 1/4-1/2 inch). Get that boiling. Then add the broccolie rabe and cook to tenderish. By then most of the water has evaporated. Then I add some olive oil and the garlic and pepper flakes and season. It skips a step and comes out more delicious!
Eat it straight. Or add it to pasta. Stays nice leftover, too.