Broccoli Rabe is one of the best vegetables of all time. Bitter yes, but appealingly so, with a peppery and kind of mustardy flavor. Broccoli rabe is most often used in Italian cooking, usually very simply prepared.
How to Prepare Broccoli Rabe
Use a sharp knife to cut the thick bottom part from the stem, about the bottom two inches. Cut the remaining stalks, leaves and florets into slices about 1 inch across. You can chop it into smaller pieces if you like, which is nice if your broccoli rabe is large and mature, with bigger florets and leaves and thicker stems.
Cooking Broccoli Rabe
At this point you can go straight to sautéing the broccoli rabe, or you can blanch it first. See below for blanching instructions. I often skip the blanching step, but I add some water to the pan after the broccoli rabe has started cooking to help it cook faster and more evenly.
Simply heat up some oil in a pan with a lid over medium heat, then once the oil is hot, add the sliced or chopped broccoli rabe. Season with salt and pepper and saute the broccoli rabe for 3 minutes, then add about 1 teaspoon of finely minced garlic. Sauté for another minute until you can smell the garlic.
Add about 1/3 cup of water to the pan (you can also use vegetable or chicken broth for more flavor). Stir, and cover the pan, and allow the broccoli rabe to steam for about 5 minutes until it is as tender as you like it. Remember that it will continue to cook and soften a bit after you remove the vegetable from the heat, even after you turn it out of the pan into a serving dish. Allow any extra water to evaporate by removing the lid and giving it a stir or two uncovered.
How to Cook Broccoli Rabe: Broccoli Rabe is appealingly bitter, with a peppery and kind of mustardy flavor. It makes a terrific simple side dish.Tweet This
Broccoli Rabe with Caramelized Onions
Instead of garlic, you can saute onions with your broccoli rabe for a really nice side dish. Heat some oil in a pan with a lid. Add 1 onion, halved and sliced and saute for about 8 minutes until the onion is softened and browned. Then add the broccoli rabe and saute for 3 minutes. Add 1/3 cup of water (or broth) to the pan, stir, cover the pan, and allow the broccoli rabe to cook for about 5 more minutes until it is done to your liking.
Blanching Broccoli Rabe
Blanching vegetables, or parcooking them, means simply cooking them briefly in salted boiling water. This usually following by draining the vegetable, and submerging it in a bath of cold or ice water to stop the cooking and preserve the vegetable’s bright color.
Blanching broccoli rabe has the advantage of softening some of the vegetable’s natural bitterness, which some people can find overpowering. The more mature the broccoli rabe is, the more bitter the flavor, for the most part. I happen to love the bitterness, so I often skip this step, but if you are looking for a milder flavor, this is a good step to keep in mind. Make sure you use a generous amount of water, about 3 quarts water to 1 pound broccoli rabe, and also that you salt the water generously so the broccoli takes on some seasoning.
Broccoli Rabe Add-Ins
Whether you cook your broccoli rabe with garlic or onions, you might want to add another ingredient or two into the dish to make it more of a robust side. Sliced or halved olives, a sprinkle of feta or parmesan cheese, some fresh herbs, like oregano, minced red bell pepper, all of these are good additions. You may also choose to sprinkle in some balsamic vinegar at the end, which is a really nice counterpoint to the bitterness of the vegetable.
Recipes with Broccoli Rabe:
- Broccoli Rabe with Preserved Lemon
- Kohlrabi, Green Cabbage, and Broccoli Rabe Slaw
- Pork Chops with Italian Salsa Verde
More How to Cook Vegetables:
- How to Cook with Arugula
- How to Cook Cabbage
- How to Cook String Beans
- How to Cook Zucchini and Summer Squash
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How to Cook Broccoli Rabe
- 1 pound broccoli rabe
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion , halved and thinly sliced
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Large pinch red pepper flakes
- Use a sharp knife to cut the thick bottom part from the stem, about the bottom two inches. Cut the remaining stalks, leaves and florets into slices about 1 inch across. You can chop it into smaller pieces if you like, which is nice if your broccoli rabe is large and mature, with bigger florets and leaves and thicker stems.
- Heat the oil in a large pan with a lid. Add the onion, season with salt and pepper halved and sliced and saute for about 8 minutes until the onion is softened and browned. Then add the broccoli rabe and saute for 3 minutes.
- Stir in the red pepper flakes, add 1/3 cup of water (or broth) to the pan, stir, cover the pan, and allow the broccoli rabe to cook for about 5 more minutes until it is done to your liking. Adjust seasonings as needed.
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