February 25, 2010

spicy broccoli rabe

The easy way to broccoli rabe nirvana, no blanching required.

That's right, no blanching. Instead of blanching and then briefly sauteing the rabe, I saute it first in garlic- and hot pepper-infused olive oil, followed by a quick steam/braise to cook it through. The result is broccoli rabe that is succulent and tender, its bitter bite mellowed but still intact, with a spicy kick of garlic and pepper.

spicy broccoli rabe

2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2 to 1 tsp red pepper flakes (depending on your heat preference)
1 bunch of broccoli rabe, washed, tough stem ends removed, and roughly chopped
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
To finish: good-quality xvoo and freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Maldon sea salt
  1. Heat 2 Tbsp xvoo in a large, heavy-bottomed pot with a lid over medium-high heat.
  2. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and saute for about 1 minute, until garlic is fragrant and beginning to take on a golden hue.
  3. Gradually add broccoli rabe, a couple of handfuls at a time, stirring to coat with oil. Once all rabe has been added, toss in a large pinch of salt. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until rabe is wilted.
  4. Add a splash of water (about 2 Tbsp), cover pot, and reduce heat to low. Cook for about 10 minutes, until rabe is tender. If at this point the rabe is too bitter for your taste (some bunches are more bitter than others), add another splash of water and cook 5 to 10 minutes more. Otherwise, uncover pot and cook for another minute or 2 to allow remaining water to evaporate.
  5. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Serve drizzled with good xvoo and sprinkled with grated Parmigiano or Maldon sea salt.


  1. I just picked up a broccoli rabe and will try this recipe soon. I do this broccoli is tastes best braised.

  2. Wow - no blanching? Love the spices - a litle heat never hurt anything.

  3. Oh my, that looks wonderful. I love the spicy aspect!

  4. I so love broccoli rabe or rapini like we call it over here,..I also love it all spiced up!

    MMMMMMM,..healthy & tasty too!

  5. Great, simple recipe--The bitterness of the rabe needs that garlic-red pepper punch!

  6. I love the bitter. This is great cold, nestled with cheese between two slices of crusty bread. The perfect lunch.

  7. FLB - hope you got your braised rabe fix on!

    Claudia and Barbara - yup this is all about the spice. Not overwhelming but it perfectly complements the rabe's bitterness

    Sophie - this certainly is a veg with many aliases!

    Nancy - agreed!

    Amuse bouche - sounds like a nice sammy! I LOVE leftover spicy rabe warmed in a panini with provolone or goat cheese and roasted red peppers - what a combination!

  8. You know how to tempt me! Give me those red pepper flakes, on anything, and I am game! I recently discovered them on chocolate and now I am nearly addicted to the chocolate lindt chili bar. Great post!

  9. Hi Taste of Beirut - thanks for your comment! I haven't tried the Lindt chili bar, but now I will be on the lookout for it. Great tip. Lately I've been all about the orange peel/dark chocolate combos - my favorite is the Michel Cluizel dark (65% cacao, I think) with bits of candied orange peel. Dangerously good :)