If you’ve ever wondered how to cook broccoli rabe, this is for you. Serve this flavorful—and bitter—vegetable as a dish, in pasta, or on sandwiches. It loves strong flavors like garlic, sausage, and red pepper.
What is Broccoli Rabe?
It’s not broccoli, let’s start there. If you think of it as a leafy green, instead of broccoli, you’ll quickly understand it. You know how kale and collard greens have a bitter bite but are wonderful? Same goes for broccoli rabe. It’s a flavorful vegetable that’s great sautéed and served as a side dish or added to pasta and sandwiches.
How Do You Cook Broccoli Rabe?
My preferred method of cooking broccoli rabe is to first blanch it in salted water. After blanching, drain the broccoli rabe, and then sauté in olive oil with a generous amount of garlic. Add red pepper flakes if you like. Season with salt to taste. It sounds odd but broccoli rabe tastes best a little overcooked. Cook it until it’s really soft and tender. (Not mushy, of course.)
When is Broccoli Rabe in Season?
Broccoli rabe is a cold weather vegetable. Look for it through from the fall through the early spring. For me, it’s not Christmas dinner without a platter of broccoli rabe.
What Does Broccoli Rabe Taste Like?
Bitter. Sharp. Bright. Is what I think of when I imagine broccoli rabe. The bitterness is what makes it awesome. It pairs nicely with rich meats, like pork and sausage. And it loves garlic. It’s one of the more flavorful greens on the market.
How Do You Pronounce Rabe?
Simple: it’s pronounced like the name “Rob.”
Where Do I Buy Broccoli Rabe?
You can purchase broccoli rabe at most grocery stores and farmers’ markets. It’s often displayed along with hearty greens, like chard and kale. It’s not usually displayed with traditional broccoli.
What is the Difference Between Broccoli and Broccoli Rabe?
Everything. Broccoli has thick stalks that are topped with large florets. It tends to be mildly bitter—although some broccoli, especially frozen broccoli, can be bland.
Broccoli rabe is a leafy vegetable with thin stalks and a few buds here and there. Those buds tend to resemble broccoli but, all in all, they don’t really taste like broccoli.
Is Broccoli Rabe the Same as Broccolini?
Nope. Broccolini is its own thing. It’s a hybrid vegetable that’s a cross between broccoli and Chinese broccoli.
What Can I Substitute for Broccoli Rabe?
I’m going to answer your question with a question: Why do you want to substitute it? If it’s because you can’t find broccoli rabe, then I’d replace it with another bitter green, like kale, mustard greens, or collard greens.
If you dislike the bitter flavor of broccoli rabe, then replace it with spinach.
How Do You Get the Bitterness Out of Broccoli Rabe?
You don’t. You can balance the bitterness by cooking it with lemon (sounds weird but the lemon tends to mellow out the bitterness in the broccoli rabe) or cream.
The best way to reduce the bitterness is simply to cook broccoli rabe for a while. Like collards or turnip greens, it’s almost impossible to overcook broccoli rabe. The longer the cooking time, the more mellow the flavor.
How Do You Clean Broccoli Rabe?
Run it under cool water and move the stalks apart to remove any dirt. Place the broccoli rabe on a cutting board and trim off about 1/4 to 1/2 off the stem.
What Can I Serve with Broccoli Rabe?
- Pasta. Add it to bucatini pasta with red sauce.
- Polenta. Make some Instant Pot Polenta. Top with white beans or sausage (or both.) and a simple red sauce.
- Pork Tenderloin. Make a pork tenderloin. Serve with broccoli rabe and crusty bread. So good.
How to Cook Broccoli Rabe
Sautéed Broccoli Rabe with Garlic.
- Kosher salt
- 1 pound broccoli rabe, washed washed
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, sliced, minced or put through a garlic press
- pinch red pepper flakes, optional
Bring a large pot water to a boil. While waiting for the water to boil, trim about 1/4 inch off the bottom of the stalks. When the water reaches a boil, add 1 teaspoon of salt. Add broccoli rabe. Stir. Cook until stalks are tender, about three to four minutes. Drain. Set aside.
Heat olive oil and garlic over medium-high heat in a large (10-inch skillet) until garlic begins to turn a light golden brown, about 2 minutes. Stir to keep the garlic from sticking together in a clump. Add red pepper flakes and cook for about 30 seconds. Add broccoli rabe to skillet. Toss to coat the broccoli rabe with oil. Reduce heat to medium. You don’t want it to scorch. Cook, stirring occasionally, until rabe is very tender, about 15 minutes. At this point, it might appear overcooked. This is what you want. Broccoli rabe tastes better slightly overcooked.
- Season with salt and serve.