Sautéed Broccoli Rabe (Rapini)
Serves 4 to 6
If you have never heard of broccoli rabe, also known as rapini or rape, check the produce section of the supermarket and, if they have it, give it a try. It is an Italian relative of broccoli in that they are both in the cabbage family. Broccoli rabe looks similar to broccoli but has abundant leaves on long, narrow stems with a few small florets. It also has a taste similar to broccoli but a more assertive flavor. It is an excellent change from the usual cooked greens.
Most recipes call for first blanching the broccoli rabe in water to remove some of the bitterness, then draining before finishing the dish. Personally, I do not think that is necessary. That little bitterness is part of the flavor that makes it so tasty and special. In this recipe the cooking process is accomplished in one pan with just enough moisture that eventually evaporates. Sautéed broccoli rabe makes a quick, easy, healthy and delicious side dish that can be made in any amount. See the similar and related recipes links for a fabulous pasta with broccoli rabe.
- 2 pounds broccoli rabe (rapini)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Water as needed for moisture
- Crushed red pepper flakes (optional, see notes)
Clean the broccoli rabe as you would other greens, removing about 1-inch at the bottom of the stems that might be tough. Cut into about 4-inch lengths. (See the notes below for additional preparation tips.)
Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and sauté until slightly softened, about 1 minute. Add the broccoli rabe, vinegar, salt and pepper. Cover and simmer until desired tenderness, about 40 minutes to my taste, adding a little water if needed. Remove the lid and allow any excess water to evaporate before serving. Serve, passing the crushed red pepper flakes separately.
Notes: Although it is rare, the stems of broccoli rabe can be a bit tough depending on the age of the rapini. They can be removed up to where the leaves begin and sautéed for a few minutes before adding the leaves to the pan. I always pass crushed red pepper when serving for those who like a little heat, but some can be added to the pan with the garlic for intensity. Leftovers are good reheated or at room temperature.