Broccoli Rabe Saute

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Yes, I did not get a chance to do our weekly DIY yesterday so I thought I would do a slightly different DIY today.  I am gonna highlight a recipe that I love.

One of the things that I love about summer is the bounty of fresh ingredients.  I usually jaunt down to the Union Square Farmers Market in NYC for delish wares.  And one of my favorite things to get is broccoli rabe.  It has a short season so I have to be really on top of it to make sure I buy as often as I can before we have to say sayonara for another year.  Yes, you can buy broccoli rabe in the store, but it is not the same as what I get at the market: big luscious leaves and is more leaf than broccoli florets.  Look at those leaves below.  So different from the puny ones you get in the grocery store.

What do I love about broccoli rabe: I love its bitterness.  The older I get, the more I realize that I love ingredients that have a strong flavor profile.  e.g. I have become quite partial to extra dark roasted coffee beans, I started eating radishes this year because I heard they were spicy.  So the more vibrant the flavor, the more likely that I will love it.

Now I realized in doing this recipe, that the whole process is a little (or a lot) time consuming.  The biggest reason is because of my own personal issues e.g. I have to wash each leaf individually, I prefer my rabe sliced thinly, I prefer grating each garlic clove separately, I prefer using tomatoes that have been de-seeded (well mostly if you look at the pictures below) etc.  You can definitely save yourself some time by vigorously shaking your rabe in a sink full of water, chopping your garlic or using pre-chopped garlic and just de-skinning the tomatoes and not de-seeding.  Check out the photos along with the printable recipe below.

Main ingredients: broccoli rabe, ripe tomatoes, onion and garlic.  Not shown: salt and EVOO.

I’m not a big fan of the rabe stem.  So I usually cut it off to where the leaves start growing.  But if you enjoy the stem, have at it.

I think it looks so pretty cut this way.

This is at the end of the first stage of cooking.  Once the rabe has reduced down in size, remove from the stove and pour out all liquid in the pot.  Put the rabe in a bowl, set aside and wipe down the pot.

Add 2 tablespoons of oil into the pot and pre-heat.  Add the onion and cook at low medium heat until softened.

Once the onion has softened, add the garlic and salt and continue to cook for another 5 to 7 minutes.

Tomatoes de-skinned and mostly de-seeded and ready to cook.

Add the tomatoes to the onion and garlic and cook until most of the tomato juice has cooked off.  Add a pinch or two of salt and continue to cook for another 5 minutes.

Add the rabe to the tomato mixture.  Continue to cook for another 5+ minutes.  The longer you cook the rabe, the less bitter it becomes.  I love the bitterness so I usually cook the combined mixture closer to 5 minutes just until all the flavors are well merged.

Once finished, I decided to eat my rabe with garlic sautéed zucchini and meatballs.  Delicious!!

Print Recipe
Broccoli Rabe Saute
This is one of my fav dishes ever. It may be one of the first real dishes my mother ever taught me to make. I love the bitterness of the broccoli rabe combined with the sweetness and acidity of the tomato and spiciness of the garlic.
  1. Chop off most of the rabe stem close to where the leaves begin. (now that is a personal preference and feel free to do otherwise. I don't like having that much stem in my dish)
  2. Wash the rabe. I wash each leaf separately but for those of you not so anal about it, fill your sink up with water and place the leaves in there. Swirl the leaves pretty vigorously for a few seconds and then place in a spinner to dry.
  3. Once the rabe has been spun, its chopping time. I usually grab a bunch of leaves just enough to fit in my hand so that my fingers and thumb barely touch. Then I slice on my cutting mat. I tend to like thinner slices. But feel free to cut your preferred size. Set aside.
  4. Next heat, on high heat, 2 tbsp of oil in a large pot until it starts to smoke. Carefully drop the chopped rabe into the pot. Please be careful as you are adding water drops to very hot oil. Of note, depending on the size of pot and the size of your rabe bunches, you may have to add them to the pot in batches. It may splatter as you will be adding wet rabe to hot oil. After about 5 seconds stir the rabe so that what was on the Bottom ends on the top. As it starts to cook, it will reduce in volume. Continue to add the rabe until it is all in the pot.
  5. Add about 1/2 tsp of salt and continue to cook until the rabe is a fraction of its original amount and is still dark green in color. You will soon see a build up of the rabe liquid in the pot.
  6. Remove the pot from the stove and drain the rabe liquid. Place the rabe in a mixing bowl and set aside.
  7. Wipe down the inside of the same pot and add the remaining 2 tbsp of oil. Heat the oil on medium. Add the onion and saute until softened. Add about 1/8 tsp of salt once the onion has softened. Continue to cook for another 2 minutes.
  8. Add the tomatoes and cook until most of the tomato liquid has dissipated. Add a couple pinches of salt and continue to cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. You are ready for the next step when the tomatoes no longer look or taste raw.
  9. Add the broccoli rabe to the onion and tomatoes. From this moment on, you can cook the combined mixture for 3 minutes, which is usually about enough time for the mixture to combine and merge its flavors or longer, which I find tends to rob the rabe of its bitterness. So play around with the cooking times until you come by your preferred taste. Since I love the bitterness, I tend to cook everything closer to the 3 minute mark.
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