This Italian style broccoli rabe recipe makes a delicious side dish. So simple to make! Sautéed in good extra-virgin olive oil, garlic, and a sprinkle of crushed red pepper flakes. We'll teach you the secret to cook them up less bitter!
Why you'll love Italian style garlicky broccoli rapini
- Truly delicious and healthy: Broccoli rabe is not only delicious but also packed with essential nutrients and fiber, making it a true superfood.
- Versatile recipe: Whether paired with chicken, pasta, beef, or even in sandwiches, this versatile dish is a delightful addition to any dinner table, bringing a burst of vibrant greens.
- Garlic and spice: The combination of garlic and red pepper flakes complements the natural flavors of the broccoli, adding a subtle touch of warmth spice without overpowering its taste. Cooked our way, you'll be making this every week!
- Why you'll love Italian style garlicky broccoli rapini
- What is broccoli rabe?
- What ingredients are in garlicky broccoli rabe?
- How to cut and cook broccoli rabe?
- How to cook broccoli rabe?
- Expert tips to make the perfect broccoli rabe
- Variations and substitutions for this sautéed broccoli rabe
- How to store leftovers?
- Some other broccoli recipes to enjoy:
- Italian Broccoli Rabe (Easy Broccoli Rapini Recipe)
What is broccoli rabe?
Broccoli rabe, also known as rapini, is a green cruciferous vegetable. The name may be a bit misleading as it's not actually a type of broccoli. It is, however, part of the Brassicaceae family which includes vegetables such as turnips and mustard greens. Broccoli rabe has a unique flavor that's described as nutty, bitter, and pungent.
It is a popular ingredient in Italian and Chinese dishes, and can be sautéed, grilled, or used in soups and pasta. Not only is it flavorful, but it's also packed with nutrients, including Vitamin K, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and calcium.
Unless you grew up in an Italian family or had Italian neighbors, you maybe have never even dreamed of touching broccoli rabe. They have a bad reputation for being bitter. So you may love them from having had them cooked the right way or you really don't like them, from having only had them cooked up very bitter. I mean, really...who likes a bitter green vegetable? Although there may be some of you that do like a bitter vegetable.
I grew up eating them most of my life cooked the Sicilian way in my Sicilian family, which is pretty much how my Calabrese in-laws ended up cooking them. Lucky for me, my in-laws in Italy grow broccoli rabe in their abundant garden. And I have to tell you, they are the sweetest rapini I've ever tasted. Very different in flavor compared to the rapini you buy in the States.
My suocera (mother-in-law) does not have to do the first step of cooking them to remove the bitterness. When I first saw her cooking them I asked her why she wasn't blanching them in salted water and she looked at me like I was crazy to ask such a silly question. She didn't even answer me. She just kept on cooking them and as soon as I took the first bite, I realized what we have in the States does not compare in flavor at all to Italian rapini.
Have you ever wondered how to cook broccoli rabe? This Italian-Style Garlicky Broccoli Rabe recipe is the best way to make it less bitter. The combination of olive oil, garlic, cheese and crushed red pepper will provide you with the best rapini recipe aka sauteed broccoli rabe.
While not as popular as broccoli or kale, rapini should certainly be included in your rotation of green vegetables. This easy-to-prepare broccoli rabe recipe will add a vibrant touch to your dinner table and pairs perfectly with a variety of pasta dishes or Italian main courses.
What ingredients are in garlicky broccoli rabe?
Just pass by your local farmer's market and grab some rapini! You probably have the rest of ingredients on hand to get this recipe started!
- Broccoli rabe: A vibrant and nutritious green vegetable known for its slightly bitter flavor and tender stems.
- Extra virgin olive oil: A high-quality oil that adds a rich and savory taste while providing health benefits.
- Garlic: A versatile ingredient that enhances the flavors with its aromatic and pungent taste.
- Sea salt: A natural salt that enhances the overall taste of the dish, adding a touch of salinity.
- Crushed red pepper flakes: Adds a subtle heat and a hint of spiciness to elevate the flavors. If making for the kids, leave it out (unless they like it spicy!).
How to cut and cook broccoli rabe?
Full printable recipe is below.
- Use a sharp knife to trim off the tough ends of the broccoli rabe.
- Cut the trimmed broccoli rabe into 1-2-inch pieces.
- Rinse in colander very well with cold water and then drain.
How to cook broccoli rabe?
- Heat extra-virgin olive oil in a large skillet on medium heat.
- Add in the garlic and as soon as it's aromatic, add in the broccoli rabe. An option is to remove the garlic and add back in at the end.
- Cook for about 5 to 10 minutes — stirring every few minutes — test with a fork to check tenderness.
- Check seasonings, and add a bit more salt and crushed red pepper flakes (if you like it spicy). Drizzle on a little extra-virgin olive oil before serving, if you like. If you removed the garlic, add back in before serving.
- Serve hot with as a side dish. It is perfect with crusty Italian bread. Enjoy!
Yes, broccoli rabe are very healthy. Broccoli rabe is packed with vitamins A, C, and K, and also minerals like iron, calcium, and folates. So go ahead and dig into a bowl!
Broccoli rabe is a leafy green vegetable. You can also eat their buds and the stems. They sort of look like broccoli florets, but they have nothing in common with broccoli. Rapini are related to turnips.
In Naples they're called friarielli. In Rome they're called broccoletti. In Apulia you'll hear them referred to as cime di rapa. And in Tuscany, they're known as rapini. You'll also hear it called broccoletti di rapa, which could be where the name broccoli rabe comes from.
You'll hear broccoli rabe (Brassica ruvo) also called raab, or rabe (both pronounced "rahb"), bitter broccoli, turnip broccoli, and rapini.
The secret to cooking broccoli rabe less bitter is to blanch them in salted boiling water for a couple of minutes. After that, they're drained, squeezing out any extra water, and sautéed.
I don't suggest you skip this important recipe step. Otherwise, you'll end up with bitter broccoli rabe.
Yes, you could make this with regular broccoli, collard greens, dandelion, kale, or Swiss or rainbow chard.
Broccoli rabe and broccolini are distinct in taste and appearance. Broccolini, also called baby broccoli, is a hybrid of broccoli and Chinese kale. It has a sweet, mild flavor with a hint of pepperiness. Its small, tender stalks have loose clusters of bud-like florets. In contrast, broccoli rabe has a more robust, bitter flavor with thinner stalks, leaves, and small broccoli-like buds.
Broccoli rabe is versatile and can be used in various dishes. Sauté with garlic and olive oil for a simple side, toss into pasta for added flavor, or grill for a smoky char. It's great in soups and stir-fries too. Blanche it to reduce bitterness before cooking.
Expert tips to make the perfect broccoli rabe
- Make it crunchy: Toss in some pine nuts, or almond slivers. Whichever one you choose to use will change the flavor a little bit of the recipe.
- Make it citrusy: Add a burst of citrus with some freshly squeezed lemon juice and even some lemon zest. Brightens it up and goes very nicely with the garlic. Or even a dash of Balsamic vinegar. Add it on towards the end of cooking and it will make a decadent glaze.
- Make it cheesy: Grate on some Parmigiano-Reggiano or even some pecorino before serving.
Variations and substitutions for this sautéed broccoli rabe
- For a milder flavor, be sure to blanch the broccoli rabe before sautéing it.
- For a cheesy version, you can add on some grated Parmigiano-Reggiano just before serving.
- For added protein, you can toss in some cooked chickpeas or white beans.
- To make it a complete meal, serve the broccoli rabe over cooked pasta or with crusty bread.
- If you don't have red chili flakes, you can use a dash of hot sauce or omit it altogether.
- Feel free to experiment with different herbs and spices to customize to your taste.
How to store leftovers?
Store any leftovers in an airtight container in your refrigerator for up to a few days. Otherwise, you can freeze it for up to 2-3 months. Reheat in a skillet (or your microwave). Be sure to thaw out overnight in the fridge if they're frozen.
Some other broccoli recipes to enjoy:
- Easy Pasta with Rapini Recipe
- Orecchiette Pasta with Broccoli Sauce
- Farfalle con Broccoli Rapini ed Asiago-Farfalle with Broccoli Rabe and Asiago Cheese
- Whole30 Broccoli Salad
Did you make this? Please RATE THE RECIPE below:)
Italian Broccoli Rabe (Easy Broccoli Rapini Recipe)
- 1 lb broccoli rabe
- 3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves peeled and thinly sliced
- sea salt to taste
- large pinch crushed red pepper flakes optional
- Roughly trim the broccoli rabe into 1" to 2" pieces by cutting from the bottom up the touch ends (discard the tough ends) and also cutting any thick stems in half.
- Place the broccoli in a large colander and rinse very well. Drain, using your hands to squeeze out any excess water.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. It should be about 3 quarts water to 1 pound of broccoli rabe. So the broccoli will take on the seasoning, be sure to salt the water generously. Add in the broccoli rabe and cook for 3-5 minutes.
- Heat a large skillet with the extra-virgin olive oil over medium heat. As soon as the garlic is aromatic and and softens a little, add the broccoli rabe and stir. An option is you could remove the garlic slices and add back in at the end.
- Cook, stirring often with tongs or a large spoon, until very soft (about 5-7 minutes). Add in a bit of water and lower the heat if needed, while cooking.
- Check the seasoning and season with salt. If you removed the garlic, go ahead and add back in. Add a generous pinch of crushed red pepper if you like it a little spicy. Drizzle on a little bit of extra-virgin olive oil, if you like. Serve hot as a side dish. Enjoy!
Please keep in mind that the nutritional information presented below is an approximation and may vary depending on the exact ingredients used.
- Broccoli rabe: You'll be buying 1 large bunch. Keep in mind it does shrink up while cooking. You may want to buy two to double the recipe and have some leftover (it's so good!!).
- Garlic: You could add even more garlic, if you like it more garlicky. You could cook it in the olive oil and discard it just to give the oil the flavor. Or take it out as soon as it softens a little so it won't keep browning while the broccoli cooks, and add back in when serving.
- Salt: Depending on how salty is the water that you cook it in, you may need 1/2 teaspoon more to season. Just check the seasoning and season to your taste.
- Crushed red pepper flakes: Totally optional, but if you like it a little spicy, add a generous pinch.