Vegetables play an important role in the Italian kitchen– from tomatoes to beans to garlic to asparagus. One of the most beloved is broccoli rabe or also known as broccoli rapini. It’s also quickly gaining popularity in the US, and for good reason– it’s a tasty, versatile vegetable. The flavor is nutty, bitter and delicious. When mixed with some garlic and sauteed in olive oil, it’s absolutely fantastic. And that’s how we prepare it in episode 14 of the Cooking with Mama Lombardo show.
This recipe, like all the others I’ve shared with you, came directly from my mother, who was born and raised in Sicily. Broccoli rabe sauteed with garlic is something she’d make as a side dish, but it can make a meal unto itself– making for a great meal with some crunchy Italian white bread.
The recipe is simple, and should take you about 15-20 minutes to prepare. For this recipe, you will need 2 fresh bunches of broccoli rabe, 5-6 cloves of garlic, salt, pepper, and about 1/2 cup of olive oil. You can find broccoli rabe in most grocery stores. Make sure you buy it fresh. Avoid wilted, older looking broccoli rabe. You can prepare one or two bunches (or more), depending upon how many people you are serving– just adjust the ingredients accordingly. This recipe calls for two fresh bunches of broccoli rabe.
Start off by preparing the broccoli rabe by cutting off the bottom stems and peeling the sides. Once you have done that, wash the broccoli rabe thoroughly. I usually use a pan as well as a colander to fully wash and drain the leaves. Once the leaves are washed, put about an inch or an inch and a half of water at the bottom of a large pan. Place the washed leaves in the pan and place on the stove at high heat. Steam the broccoli rabe for about 5-8 minutes, until the leaves are fully soft. You’ll see the “loft” of the leaves go down and into the bottom of the pan. You want to avoid over-steaming them.
Take the finished steamed broccoli rabe and drain out all the water. Let the leaves drain and dry out thoroughly. You want to make sure all the excess water is off of the leaves. Sometimes using a paper towel to wipe up the excess water can help speed up the process.
While the broccoli rabe is drying, peel the garlic cloves and dice them up. Place them aside for later use. Next, place a large frying pan on the stove at high heat, and add the olive oil. Once the olive oil is heated, place the broccoli rabe into the pan. The broccoli rabe should immediately start crackling in the oil. Once you’ve got the surface of the pan covered with the broccoli rabe, continue to snip the longer pieces into smaller pieces with a scissors, which will help make it less “stringy” when eating. From a circle of the broccoli rabe in the pan with a spoon, and then place the garlic into the circle. Spread the garlic out and mix it with the broccoli rabe.
Flip the broccoli rabe over a few times while cooking for about 6-10 minutes. Get it crispy and brown on both sides. Once it’s well cooked, place onto a pan and serve hot! I like to serve it with crunchy Italian white bread– an absolutely fantastic combination. Enjoy!