Italian FoodsSide Dishes

Sauteed Broccoli Rabe {Rapini}

Are you tired of conventional steamed spinach or broccoli sides? This sauteed broccoli rabe will give you the perfect variety to classic healthy green sides.

For those of you hearing about this leafy vegetable for the first time, let’s see what broccoli rabe actually is.

What is Broccoli Rabe?

Broccoli rabe is a green leafy vegetable with edible stems and buds.

which look like little broccoli florets but surprisingly this vegetable has nothing to do with broccoli.

Instead, broccoli rabe is closely related to turnip family. And the broccoli-like florets are the turnip buds that have not yet blossomed.

Naturally, it has slightly bitter, mustard-y favor that pairs really well with meat, pasta and pretty much anything else.

In Italy it’s appreciated both for its flavor and nutritional benefits and it’s widely used all over the country.

Depending on where you find it you’ll hear it called by different names.

In Rome it’s called broccoletti, in Naples – friarielli, in Apulia – cime di rapa, in Tuscany – rapini.

In English-speaking world you’re most like know them as broccoli rabe, broccoli raab or rapini.

Looking at one of its Italian names  – broccoletti di rapa, it seems that’s where broccoli rabe name comes from.

Its “first name”, broccoli is pretty self-explaining because of the broccoli-like florets.

Rabe, is most likely a bad spelling of rapa (rapa in Italian means turnip).

Sauteed Broccoli Rabe {Rapini}

Broccoli Rabe Benefits

Broccoli rabe is a powerhouse of vitamins A, C, and K, and minerals such as calcium, iron and folates.

It’s also super low in calories carrying just 22 calories per 100g

Now let’s talk a little bit about practical side of the things 🙂

How to cook broccoli rabe less bitter?

In case you’re not one of those who appreciate a little spicy, zesty greens you can easily manage it.

If you want to mellow all the bitterness from broccoli rabe simply blanche it (cook briefly in salty boiling water and place in iced water to stop the cooking process)

I’ve also heard that boiling bitter greens such as chicory with potatoes will take out some of the bitterness, but I have yet to try it with rapini. Maybe because I do appreciate a little bitterness to it.

How to prepare Broccoli Rabe or Rapini

If you’re planning to serve it as a side, you might appreciate Oven Roasted Broccoli Rabe

But Sauteed Broccoli Rabe is the most classic and versatile way to cook it

Why?

Because once you saute a couple of bunches you can use it to make quick and delicious pasta sauce, top it over creamy polenta, farinata, make crostini, get it into panini sandwich – aka famous Rapini Sandwich.

Not to mention serving it as a classic side with meat and a slice of lemon 😋

Sauteed Broccoli Rabe

TIP 1: If you’re planning to use sauteed broccoli rabe for pasta, chop it coarsely before cooking.

TIP 2: If you like to feel a strong garlic taste you can slice or chop garlic cloves instead of just squeezing it with a flat knife.

Sauteed Broccoli Rabe {Sauteed Rapini}

Are you tired of conventional steamed spinach or broccoli side? This sauteed broccoli rabe will give you the perfect variety to classic healthy green sides.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch broccoli rabe (rapini)
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • Pinch peperoncino (chili flakes ½ inch fresh hot pepper)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt to taste

Instructions

  • Start by washing broccoli rabe under cold running water.
    Remove all yellow and dull leaves.
    Trim off the bottoms of the stems to remove tough and fibrous part.
    If some of the stems are still thick don’t cut them off further but split the end with a knife until the stems thins out a bit. This will ensure your greens are cooked evenly.
  • If after cleaning and trimming the stalks are still too long, cut them in half. Also chop them coarsely if you plan to use it for pasta.
  • In a large pan or a wok add a generous splash of extra virgin olive oil, garlic cloves crushed with a flat knife and a pinch of peperoncino flakes.
    If you like to feel a strong garlic taste you can slice or chop garlic cloves instead of just using as whole.
    Let cook until garlic starts to become fragrant.
  • Add broccoli rabe and cover the pan with a lid.
    Saute over medium heat for about 5 minutes occasionally giving them a turn.
  • Add salt, lower the heat and continue cooking for another 5 minutes.
    Sauteed rapini are done when the stalks still have a crunch to them.
  • Serve as a side dish or add to pasta, polenta, farinata and sandwiches.

Notes

TIP 1: If you’re planning to use sauteed broccoli rabe for pasta, chop it coarsely before cooking.
TIP 2: If you like to feel a strong garlic taste you can slice or chop garlic cloves instead of just squeezing it with a flat knife.
Delicious Sauteed Broccoli Rabe {Rapini}

So next time broccoli rabe is in season (early spring, late fall and winter) try sauteing a bunch or two and see how you like it ;

And if you’re already familiar with this veggies let me know what’s your favorite way to serve it?

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