Broccoli rabe, aka rapini, is a great winter vegetable. It’s available year-round but winter is peak season and it’s looking especially good right now.
The little green florets give broccoli rabe a broccoli look, and it’s in the broccoli family, but it’s closer to the turnip and tastes like it. The bitter, nutty flavor partners well with a simple dressing of olive oil, garlic and, salt. And rabe can side with pretty much any grilled meats, pan fried cutlets, a hearty fish, but we almost always make rabe to go with pasta and pizza. It’s tannic bite balances all things fatty.
Broccoli rabe takes just a few minutes to cook to crisp tender. Overcooking turns it mushy, which is fine, but a little bite in the stems is worth protecting. We remove the stems from the leaves and give them about a 3 or so minute head start in boiling water. The rabe leaves needs about 7 or 8 minutes so don’t leave your post.
As for the garlic, same advice. When cooking your fresh chopped garlic in oil in a pan keep the heat to medium and keep an eye on it. Once chopped garlic shows some brown it turns dark quickly and will burn. Our ingredient list offers a range on the amount of garlic. It’s really up to you; we just use a lot. If you’ve had broccoli rabe in, say, Allentown, PA, or Westerly, RI, the garlic is generous and really makes the dish. Remember that sautéed garlic is gentler than raw and adds a sweetness to the bittery rabe.
Add a little heat if you like. Crushed red pepper flakes or fancy Italian peppers, it’s all good.
And check out Mindy’s very cool Broccoli Rabe Pesto recipe here. It’s a quick pesto fix when fresh basil is a ways off.
- 2 bunches broccoli rate, rinsed
- 8 - 10 garlic cloves, chopped
- Olive oil
- Red pepper flakes
- Heat a large pot of generously salted boiling water. Remove about an inch of the stems from the rabe and discard. Remove the stems from the leaves.
- As the water heats up, heat 2-3 tablespoons of oil in a medium hot skillet and add the garlic. Sauté the garlic just until it begins to brown. Remove the skillet from the heat and leave the garlic and oil in the skillet.
- Drop the rabe stems into boiling water and cook 3 minutes. Add the leaves and cook until crisp tender, about 7 or 8 additional minutes.
- Remove the rabe from the water and drain in a colander. Add the rabe to the skillet and combine with the garlic and oil over medium heat. Add hot peppers if you like.