What to do with Broccoli Rabe

Deep dark green, leafy veggies are so good for us. And broccoli rabe is my absolute favorite. Yes, spinach is pure earthy green. Kale vitamin earnest. Swiss chard beautiful, colorful. Collards durable, confident. Mustard greens spikey with flavor.

But broccoli rabe is downright bitter. Ah, that’s the best part! Bitter sometimes gets a bad rap. But bitter can be oh-so-good. From bunch to bunch of broccoli rabe the bitterness can range in intensity. Sometimes I take the fresh bundle from the grocery bag and, even raw, it smells bitter. I love that moment. That’s when I really swoon at what’s coming when cooked.

It’s easy to make and my favorite recipe is the most traditional. Olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes. Ta-da!

Do try it. A great side, or make it your main meal. Or cook the recipe below and add some pasta (with a sprinkling or grated parmesan or pecorino). Enjoy! Let me know how it goes.

Sautéed Broccoli Rabe with Garlic & Red Pepper Flakes

1 bunch broccoli rabe
3 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
4-5 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Cut off some of the thick bottom stems from the broccoli rabe and discard. Cut the leaves and flowerets into smaller pieces: halving large leaves, separating out floweret stems with a leaf or two attached. Rinse in a colander, and shake out extra clinging water.

In a large skillet, heat about 4-5 tablespoons olive oil. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, cook until garlic starts to turn golden. Add cut-up broccoli rabe (it will sizzle because it’s a little wet— but will calm down). Cook 5-6 minutes, turning broccoli rabe in oil, until wilted and tender. Season with salt & pepper. Serve.




You say rapini. I say broccoli rabe.

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.