Free: Healthy 5-Ingredient Meals EbookGet It Now
I’m always looking for new veggies to make, and learning how to cook broccoli rabe was my latest adventure when I spotted it at the store. It looks a bit like a cross between sauteed broccoli or broccolini and bok choy, but has its own unique taste. While some people find it bitter, I discovered that blanching it first and then cooking it with olive oil, garlic, and parmesan cheese makes it really yummy! This broccoli rabe recipe is a quick and easy side dish that adds a tasty twist to any meal.
Why You’ll Love This Broccoli Rabe Recipe
- Bold garlic and peppery flavors
- Perfect crisp-tender texture
- Only 5 simple ingredients (plus salt and pepper)
- Ready in just 10 minutes
- Faster than roasting
- Healthy, quick side dish
What Is Broccoli Rabe?
Broccoli rabe, also known as rapini, is a green cruciferous vegetable with leafy tops, small broccoli-like florets, and stems. It has a slightly bitter flavor and is popular in Italian cooking.
Ingredients & Substitutions
This section explains how to choose the best ingredients for this sautéed broccoli rabe recipe, what each one does in the recipe, and substitution options. For measurements, see the recipe card below.
- Broccoli Rabe – This veggie is in season in the early spring, fall, and early winter, but you can find it others times of year, too. Choose stalks that are young and not too woody, as these are less bitter. Trim the tough ends, similarly to how you would asparagus.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil – I recommend this oil for its rich flavor. Regular olive oil or avocado oil can also work.
- Garlic – Slice the cloves thinly, not minced. If you prefer, you could use 3 teaspoons jarred minced garlic instead, but watch carefully because minced will burn faster.
- Sea Salt & Black Pepper
- Crushed Red Pepper Flakes – For a hint of heat in this broccoli rabe recipe. You can substitute the hot pepper flakes with a pinch of cayenne pepper or chili powder instead, or simply omit it for a milder dish.
- Grated Parmesan Cheese – Although optional, grated parmesan adds a savory, nutty flavor that beautifully complements the slight bitterness of the broccoli rabe. You can also opt for shredded parmesan instead.
- Lemon Wedges – Serving with a squeeze of fresh lemon adds brightens the flavors of the dish. You could also stir lemon juice or lemon zest directly into the skillet at the end, or omit altogether.
How To Cook Broccoli Rabe
This section shows how to make broccoli rabe, with step-by-step photos and details about the technique, to help you visualize it. For full instructions, including amounts and temperatures, see the recipe card below.
- Blanch. In a large saute pan, boil a few inches of salted water. Blanch the broccoli rabe, until tender but firm.
FYI: Blanching the broccoli rabe is important to take the bitterness out.
I don’t recommend skipping this step. It’s worth the extra few minutes for a better flavor!
- Shock. Quickly transfer the cooked broccoli rabe to a bowl of ice water to stop cooking process. Drain and pat dry.
- Saute the garlic. Wipe and dry the pan. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat, and saute the sliced garlic until fragrant.
- Saute the broccoli rabe. Add the broccoli rabe, sea salt, black pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes. Cook until warm.
- Garnish. Sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese and add a squeeze of lemon.
- Extra Lemony – If you want more citrus than just a squeeze of lemon at the end, zest a whole lemon into the olive oil while it heats, then finish the dish with extra lemon juice.
- Balsamic Glazed – After sautéing, drizzle with homemade balsamic glaze for a sweet and tangy finish.
- Cheesy – Sprinkle shredded mozzarella or crumbled feta cheese over the cooked broccoli rabe, then broil it briefly until the cheese melts and becomes bubbly.
- Nutty – Toss in a handful of pine nuts or sliced almonds together with the garlic.
- Broccoli Rabe And Sausage – After blanching broccoli rabe, brown a pound of ground Italian sausage in the skillet. Proceed with the rest of the recipe for a skillet meal. Cherry tomatoes (cooked with the broccoli rabe until they start to burst) also make a nice addition to this combo.
- Store: Keep leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days.
- Reheat: Warm in a skillet over medium heat until heated through, or in the microwave for a quick option.
- Freeze: Pack in airtight containers or zip lock bags, and freeze for up to 6 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.
What To Serve With Broccoli Rabe Recipes
This healthy veggie pairs well with Italian dishes, but you can quite serve it as a simple side to literally any protein. Here are some dishes I like to pair with it:
- Chicken – I like this side dish with roasted chicken thighs or juicy grilled chicken for a simple meal. It also works well with richer options, like creamy lemon chicken or cheesy ranch chicken.
- Beef – Serve with anything from a classic sirloin steak to a juicy burger.
- Fish – Plate it with baked salmon for a simple meal that has similar flavors, nut-crusted baked haddock for a little crunch, or parmesan crusted tilapia for a cheesy option.
- Pork – Pair with a savory pork sirloin roast, or quicker pan seared pork chops.
- Potatoes – Balance these leafy greens with some hearty Greek lemon potatoes, or make stuffed sweet potatoes for a complete meal.
Broccoli Rabe Recipe (10 Min!)
Make this quick and flavorful broccoli rabe recipe with garlic, olive oil, and parmesan, in just 10 minutes! Perfect for a healthy side dish.
Tap on the times in the instructions below to start a kitchen timer while you cook.
Fill a large saute pan (with tall sides) with a few inches of water. Add 2-3 teaspoons of sea salt and bring to a boil. Add the broccoli rabe and blanch for about 2 minutes, until somewhat tender but firm.
Meanwhile, fill a large bowl with cold water and ice cubes. As soon as the broccoli rabe is done, immediately transfer it to the bowl to shock it and stop the cooking process. Drain the water and pat the broccoli rabe dry with paper towels.
Wipe the pan and dry. Place over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Add the garlic and sauté for 30-60 seconds, until fragrant.
Add the broccoli rabe, sea salt, black pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes. Cook for 2-3 minutes, until warm.
If desired, serve with grated parmesan cheese and a squeeze of lemon.
Did You Like It?
Leave a rating to help other readers (this also helps me continue to provide free recipes on my site), or get the recipe sent to your inbox.
Serving size: 1 cup
Nutrition info does not include optional ingredients.
Nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy. Have questions about calculations or why you got a different result? Please see our nutrition policy.
© Copyright Maya Krampf for Wholesome Yum. Please DO NOT SCREENSHOT OR COPY/PASTE recipes to social media or websites. We’d LOVE for you to share a link with photo instead. 🙂