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Sautéed Broccoli Rabe with Potatoes

America has at last discovered this wonderful vegetable known as rapini (often called “raab” in English). I’m convinced that people would like it more if they had it prepared correctly. The secret to cooking broccoli rapini is to boil the greens briefly before sautéing to rid them of their excessive bitterness and to tenderize the stalks. If the stalks are at all crisp, they will remain bitter. The cooking time will depend on the freshness of the rapini.

I want to credit my friend, Viola Buitoni, who originally gave me the recipe.–Julia della Croce

LC You Say Rapini, We Say Raab Note

Rapini. Raab. Rabe. Different names, same pungent, leafy green veggie. These easily confused names—each preceded by “broccoli”—are something of a misnomer given the robust plant is actually a brassica and, as such, more closely related to turnip and mustard greens than broccoli. [Editor's Note: The lovely Julia della Croce was kind enough to let us know that "rapini" is the diminutive for Cima di Rapa or Broccoli di Rapa, the correct Italian terms for the vegetable.] And no, it’s not the same as sweet, mild-mannered, seemingly always-in-season broccolini, although we have a hunch you could substitute that for the rapini here to great effect. Whereas broccolini is in stores much of the year, rapini shows up at farmers’ markets for a short spell in early fall and then again come spring, just after ramps but before local asparagus. It’s diminutive yellow flowers are pretty hard to miss.

Sautéed Broccoli Rabe with Potatoes Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 30 M
  • 50 M
  • Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 Yukon Gold potatoes, unpeeled
  • 1 bunch broccoli rabe
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 large garlic cloves, smashed and peeled

Directions

  • 1. Place the potatoes in a pot, add ample cold water to cover, and bring to a boil. Cook over medium heat until the potatoes are tender but not falling apart, about 20 minutes, depending on the size. Using a slotted spoon, remove the potatoes and let drain. Set aside until cool enough to handle.
  • 2. Meanwhile, using a small, sharp knife, peel the skin from the tough lower stalks of the rapini, which is to say, most of the bottom portion of the stalk. Cut the stems crosswise into about 3-inch lengths. Return the potato cooking water to a boil, adding a little additional water. When boiling, add the rapini along with the salt, cover partially, and simmer until the stalks are tender but not mushy, maybe 4 to 5 minutes. Drain the greens, reserving a little of the cooking liquid. Set aside.
  • 3. Pry the skin from the potatoes (it should come off easily with your fingertips) and cut each potato lengthwise into quarters, then cut each quarter crossways into slices about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick or so.
  • 4. In a skillet or saucepan large enough to accommodate the potatoes and the greens, warm 3 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté until nicely softened but not colored, about 4 minutes. Transfer the garlic to a bowl.
  • 5. Raise the heat to medium-high, add the potatoes, and sauté until they are golden and crisp all over, about 12 minutes. Transfer the potatoes to a serving bowl or platter. Warm the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat, then add the rapini and the garlic cloves. Sauté until the greens are nicely coated with the olive oil and heated through, about 3 minutes; if the greens appear a little dry, add a spoonful or so of the reserved cooking water. Add to the potatoes and toss. Adjust for seasoning and serve immediately.
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