Saturday, June 26, 2010

Veggie Rage: Broccoli Rabe

Hi all!

As you may or may not know about me, I really like veggies. I like almost all veggies. In fact, as I sit here, trying to think about a vegetable I don't like, I am coming up... empty. I can't, at this moment, think of a vegetable that I won't eat. It is this love that I have for all things green (and red and yellow and white and orange) that is injured whenever I see these food corporations blithely, and with an ironic "wink wink", showing us how to choke down servings of vegetables in a quick tasty beverage, and sneak vegetables to our children. Heaven forbid anyone should prepare with excitement, and consume with enjoyment, a vegetable that actually resembles a vegetable.

I have called attention to some of the more egregious examples of this in a previous "Veggie Rage" post about brussels sprouts, but today I am turning my attention to another of my favorite bundles of green: Broccoli Rabe.

If you're not familiar with this delightful combination of floret and leafiness, it resembles kale (although not as curly) with smaller, looser, larger-sprouted broccoli florets.

Broccoli Rabe, also known as Rapini, is more bitter than your standard broccoli, but is just as, if not more, versatile than our old friend broccoli (which i would never disparage. I promise, broccoli, i have nothing but love for you and will definitely do a broccoli-focused post at some point). Broccoli Rabe makes a lovely side accompaniment, pasta dish, and I have been known to consume it as a main dish, which I happened to do this particular evening.

The simplest, and most frequent way that I prepare broccoli rabe is sauteed with garlic and crushed red pepper. I start by cutting down and cleaning the broccoli rabe.
Along the stalk, there are leaves, and at the end of the stalk, a floret. Because the leaves tend to cook down much faster than the floret, when cutting the end off the stalk, I also cut away the upper stalk (with the floret) and separate these into two piles- 1 of just leaves, 1 of floret-stalks (see photo)

I put these in the salad spinner and immerse them in water to wash before before draining completely. It's important that you dry the greens as much as possible, so that when you place them in the pan to cook, they are not too wet-- wet greens in hot oil are not a good combination.

I mince about 4 or more cloves of garlic, and heat 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. The amount of garlic and olive oil depends on how much broccoli rabe there is. Add the garlic and a teaspoon (or more if you like spicy) of crushed red pepper to the oil. Once the garlic is just golden brown (about 1 minute) add the greens.

If you have separated the greens, add the stalks with the broccoli florets first, along with ~1/2 tsp of salt, toss them in the pan so that they are coated and wilted, and after about 1-2 minutes, add the leafy greens.
Toss and coat these as well, if you are short on olive oil in the pan, you can always add more, just be sure to toss the greens to coat evenly. The goal here is to cook the greens well enough that they are appropriately wilted, but are still firm. This usually takes around 5 minutes total.

Once the broccoli rabe is cooked to the tenderness you desire, plate it with whatever else you are eating (sometimes for me it's just brown rice and broccoli rabe) and enjoy the beautiful leafy, bitter green for all that it can add to your plate!


  1. I like to call them broccoli rabies.

  2. in honor of the other brooklyn girls cooking's boyfriend, i call it Broccoli Rob

  3. hahaha Broccoli The Rob?

    I love this veg and it is crazy good for you.