Follow these easy steps to prepare the most delicious broccoli rabe (rapini) for a tasty side dish. This method removes the bitterness that naturally occurs with broccoli rabe and adds a balance of simple flavors to bring out its best.
Vegetarian | Vegan | Gluten Free
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 vegan 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.
Broccoli Rabe (Rapini) with Garlic, Vegan Parmesan and Lemon
- 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 vegan Parmesan
- zest of one lemon
- 1/4 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 vegan Parmesan, lemon zest and golden raisins. Serve warm.
If you love this Broccoli Rabe, you’ll love…
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Just made it and it was deeeeelicious! Thank you soooo much!
Oh, I’m so happy to hear you enjoyed this, Dunori! I haven’t made this in a while…now I’m craving it. :) Thank you for taking the time to comment…so sweet!
Broccoli rabe is one of the first things we eat in the spring from my husbands garden.
The young, tender sprouts are delicious, quickly steamed, then add a spritz of olive oil, garlic and a pinch of salt and pepper. We look forward to the spring for this versatile vegetable sided with our homemade Italian sausages, that we make in January.
You’re so lucky, Sue! I bet fresh out of the garden broccoli rabe is delicious! Thanks so much for sharing that…and inspiring me to plant some broccoli rabe next year! xo
Hello Caroline. I know this post is old, but first time for me. You don’t mention what to do with the sauteed garlic? When you remove the garlic from the saute, do you just throw it out? Why do you remove it from the saute before adding the rapini? Confused.
Hi Beatriz! I should have clarified…once you remove the garlic you can discard it. In this particular recipe, I just infuse the olive oil with the garlic flavor, but honestly, if you want a stronger garlic flavor, feel free to mince the garlic instead of just smashing it and cook it with the rapini. Hope that helps!
Thanks for the tip, Caroline! I learn so much from other bloggers. I’ve only used it a couple times and agree about the bitterness. Love these photos!
Karen @ Seasonal Cravings
I love broccoli rabe prepared this way – first with a boil, then a saute. The addition of shaved parm and golden raisins adds a fancy touch. Yum!