The first time I ever prepared broccoli rabe, years ago, I just rinsed it off and threw it in a pan of olive oil and garlic. It was awful. I mean, it was so, so awful. The bitterness was overwhelming. I wondered how anyone found this stuff edible. I swore that vile green pseudo-broccoli would never touch my lips again.
Never say never. Years later, our paths crossed again. I decided to give that acrid green monster another chance. This time, I did some research. Hmmm…it wasn’t the monster’s fault all along. It was me. I found that blanching the broccoli rabe first is the key to removing much of the bitterness…not all, but much. Many recipes call for blanching for just a minute. I’m not a fan of overcooked vegetables, but I’ve found that one minute doesn’t do much. I blanch for three to five minutes (and if five works well, sometimes I’ll keep going to six or seven on a light simmer). This still retains the vegetable’s bright green color and leaves some body to the stems, but I feel that the longer simmer may help render more bitterness out.
After blanching, it’s a quick sauté with some garlic infused olive oil and lots of freshly shaved buttery Parmesan, fresh lemon zest and a handful of golden raisins. The sweetness of the raisins are really nice and actually compliment any bitterness left behind.
- 1 bunch broccoli rabe (rapini)
- 2 teaspoons fine kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed
- additional salt and pepper, to taste
- 3 to 4 ounces freshly shaved Parmesan
- zest of one lemon
- ¼ cup golden raisins
- Rinse the broccoli rabe and trim any tough stems.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the salt and the trimmed broccoli rabe. Return to a boil and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes, or up to 6 or 7 minutes if your broccoli rabe is mature.
- Using tongs, remove the broccoli rabe and set on a baking sheet lined with a clean dish towel.
- Over medium-high heat add the olive oil to a sauté pan with the smashed garlic cloves. Cook the garlic for about 2 minutes, then remove them. Add the broccoli rabe and sauté for just a minute or two. Season with a bit more salt and some pepper.
- Move the broccoli rabe to a serving platter. Top with some shaved Parmesan, lemon zest and golden raisins. Serve warm.