How to cook broccoli rabe to perfection is a skill I only recently mastered. Broccoli rabe (also known as rapini) just was not a vegetable I grew up eating. Actually, I had never even heard of broccoli raab until after I graduated from college. These days I am a proud bona fide broccoli rabe connoisseur. But trust me, I know it is a somewhat intimidating vegetable to cook. In fact, even though I ordered broccoli raab frequently in restaurants, for the longest time I wouldn’t dare try making this foreign green in my own kitchen because the few times I did try it turned out terrible—bitter and just downright awful tasting.
Lucky for me a dear family friend, Joe Riti, who happens to be a master of Italian cooking (and who grew up eating broccoli rabe by the pound!) was kind enough to teach me how to make the best tasting broccoli rabe ever. And best of all….it is super easy to do!
Joe Riti Shows Me How to Cook Broccoli Rabe To Perfection
Joe Riti is not a trained chef, but I am not exaggerating when I tell you he is a master of Italian cooking (one day I am confident I will be able to talk him into opening his own restaurant.) One of the things I am always incredibly amazed at is how effortlessly Joe seems to throw together the most delicious food in enormous quantities in record time….and all while keeping the kitchen immaculately clean. Many of the classic dishes Joe prepares are actually surprisingly healthy “clean cuisine” and based on very simple, super fresh ingredients. His recipe for broccoli rabe is no exception. It is really very basic and surprisingly easy to make. But when I tell you it is truly the best tasting broccoli rabe ever I am not exaggerating. It’s amazing. And amazingly versatile too…
What To Do With Cooked Broccoli Rabe?
Cooking broccoli rabe is one thing, but eating it is another. With just a smidgen of imagination, you’ll find cooked broccoli rabe can easily sneak its way into many a dish. Joe said when he was growing up broccoli rabe was actually considered “poor folk” food and since his family did not have a lot of money he ate it rather frequently. Joes’ mom would actually pack him a broccoli rabe sandwich spread with ricotta. My personal favorite is toasted sprouted whole grain bread piled with sauteed broccoli rabe topped with a poached pastured egg—- pure bliss on bread.
You can also top your pizza with broccoli raab—-Joe makes fresh pizza but if you don’t have time for that it is still delish on top of whole wheat pita pizzas or even on English muffin pizzas (I like sprouted whole grain pizzas and English muffins from Food for Life.)
Broccoli rabe is also one of my favorite potato stuffers (nothing beats a baked potato for lunch stuffed with marinara and loads of broccoli rabe.) And one of my all-time favorite ways to eat it is tossed with sprouted whole grain penne pasta, walnut “crumbs” and cannelloni beans. And of course you can always eat it straight up…
Ok, on with the recipe…
How to Cook Broccoli Rabe Perfectly
Note: One thing Joe has taught me is not to be afraid to use an outrageous amount of chopped garlic…the more the better.
• 1 large bunch of fresh broccoli rabe
• 3 tablespoons cold pressed extra virgin olive oil
• 1 whole bulb of fresh peeled garlic, coarsely chopped (use a mini food processor to make this easy)
1. Trim the thick tough stems from the broccoli rabe just below where the stems branch or the leaves start. Rinse the broccoli rabe and pat dry.
2. Heat the oil in a large heavy cast iron skillet over medium heat; add the chopped garlic and sauté briefly, 30-45 seconds. Add the broccoli rabe, toss to coat in the oil and garlic and reduce the heat to medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, until broccoli wilts. As it is cooking, season several times with salt and crushed red pepper. Cook broccoli for about 15 to 20 minutes or until it is very, very wilted.