Broccoli Rabe with Roasted Garlic

Large spears of broccoli fried in copious amounts of oil and garlic are a staple at old-school Italian restaurants in Manhattan and the outer boroughs. As newer restaurants have begun to reflect a broader spectrum of Italian regional cuisine, broccoli rabe, favored especially in northern Italy, has grown in popularity. Known also as broccoli raab and rapini, it’s endowed with green stalks and florets, but is more closely related to cabbage and turnips than its namesake, broccoli. In this version, its pleasant bitterness is balanced by the nutty, almost sweet flavor of roasted garlic. It’s an excellent accompaniment to roasted pork, grilled steak, or pasta.–Carolynn Carreño

LC You Say Rabe, I Say... Note

It’s nice to be able to pronounce the food that you eat—and not just in terms of avoiding multisyllabic ingredients that mess with Mother Nature. What we mean in terms of this recipe is that it’s sorta common decency to appreciate and convey your respects for food from another culture via—you guessed it—proper pronunciation. That tricky looking word after “broccoli”? Don’t pronounce the “e” at the end. It should sound like “rahb.” As if you were talking about going to rob a local grocer of his rabe. Not that you would ever do that. (Would you?!)

Broccoli Rabe with Roasted Garlic Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 10 M
  • 1 H
  • Serves 6

Ingredients

  • For the roasted garlic
  • 1 head garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • For the broccoli rabe
  • 3 pounds broccoli rabe
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • Pinch crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  • Make the roasted garlic
  • 1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (176°C).
  • 2. Break the head of garlic into individual cloves but do not peel them. Stack 2 pieces of aluminum foil, each about 6 inches square, on top of one another. Pile the garlic cloves in the center of the foil, drizzle with the olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Bring up the corners of the foil and crimp together to make a tightly sealed little package. Roast until the garlic cloves feel soft and yielding when you gently pinch them, 30 to 40 minutes. Let the garlic cool slightly.
  • 3. When the garlic is cool enough to handle, pinch the tip of each clove to squeeze the mushy goodness from the papery skins. Discard the skins but reserve the garlic oil in the foil.
  • Make the broccoli rabe
  • 4. Meanwhile, trim and discard the tough stem ends from the broccoli rabe. Place the rabe in a large saucepan and add the water. Cover the pan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the broccoli rabe is tender and bright green, about 5 minutes. Drain and pat the broccoli rabe dry. If desired, cut it into 1-inch lengths.
  • 5. In a large skillet over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the roasted garlic, any oil from the foil package, and the red pepper flakes, if desired, and saute for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the broccoli rabe, stir to combine, and saute just until heated through, about 3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.
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Jenna Helwig

Oct 02, 2012

I’m a little obsessed with broccoli rabe. I love its bitterness and how well it pairs with garlic. So a recipe offering roasted garlic with rabe was just too good to pass up. I had a hard time conceptualizing this dish before I made it, as I’d never cooked broccoli rabe in so little water. I usually blanch it, but the steaming method worked great and is much quicker since you don’t have to wait for the water to come to a boil. I also wasn’t certain how the roasted garlic would meld with the rapini. But basically once it’s tossed together with the olive oil, it becomes almost like a sauce, and a delicious one at that. This side dish was enjoyed by all, including my 6-year-old.

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Brenda Carleton

Oct 02, 2012

This was a flavorful and pretty dish that I’d definitely make again. The recipe calls for roasting the garlic in individual cloves rather than leaving the head whole. You drizzle the cloves with olive oil and season, then proceed with roasting. This method was faster than roasting the head whole. I like it. After cooking the broccoli rabe, it’s sautéed with the roasted garlic and its oil. Be careful not to burn the garlic! We added the optional red pepper flakes as we enjoy spicy heat. Season and voila! A very easy way to create a lovely side. I didn’t shock the rabe in cold water as it kept its color well without doing so.

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Jackie B.-P.

Oct 02, 2012

I’m a big fan of bitter greens, particularly broccoli rabe, and I liked the idea of sautéing it with a lot of roasted garlic. The technique for roasting the garlic worked really well and could be used for any dish that requires roasted garlic. I can be sensitive to raw garlic, so this is a great way to keep the flavor but mellow it a bit. The next time I make this I’ll definitely add the red pepper flakes. I didn’t this time because one of our dinner guests wasn’t a fan of spicy foods. The only change I’d make would be to use a little bit less olive oil to cut a bit of fat out of this recipe. All in all, this is a good side dish.

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Anna Scott

Oct 02, 2012

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again—roasted garlic has the most heavenly aroma! I love broccoli rabe and I love roasted garlic, so I was excited to combine the two in this easy recipe. I halved the amount of broccoli rabe since I was cooking for just 2 of us, but I roasted the entire head of garlic. I recommend that you go ahead and roast 2 heads even if you follow the rabe serving size in the recipe. I’ve never separated the individual cloves from the head of garlic before roasting, but I like this method. This makes it easier to squeeze the garlic out once it’s roasted. When I blanched the broccoli rabe I used about a 1/2 cup of water, not a 1/4 cup as recommended. I strained the broccoli rabe and yes, I did rinse it off with cold water to help stop the cooking process. I love this method of cooking this vegetable! Sautéing it in oil with the garlic and red pepper flakes really gives a delicious flavor to this bitter green. I’d recommend watching how much you salt the broccoli rabe…a pinch will do just fine in my opinion. We had this on the side with a Greek-style pizza and it was a fabulous combination.

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Kate H. Knapp

Oct 02, 2012

By roasting the garlic first, this recipe is elevated to a new level in side dishes. The rich, almost sinful flavor of the roasted garlic melds perfectly with the fresh, leafy taste of broccoli rabe. The addition of red pepper flakes adds a nice contrast and a bit of zing to the sweet garlic. The amount of oil, however, is a bit much, especially when the additional oil is added from the garlic. Cutting back this amount will help keep the dish tasting light and fresh. Salt is a crucial element at the end, and tasting while seasoning is highly encouraged.

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Kristen Kennedy

Oct 02, 2012

This is excellent (and I don’t particularly like broccoli rabe) because of the simple preparation and, of course, the roasted garlic. The technique used to roast the garlic is ideal—separating the cloves before roasting ensures easy and thorough removal of the garlic from the peel. I’ll never go back to roasting an intact head of garlic again! The broccoli rabe doesn’t need to be shocked in cold water to maintain its vivid green color (although the leaves are darker than the stems). I used the optional red pepper flakes and I don’t feel it overpowered the dish; it simply gave it some kick.

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Karen Taylor

Oct 02, 2012

This is one of those recipes that you don’t really need a recipe for, except it serves the purpose of reminding you that it’s a delicious dish that needs to be made often. I had no problem with the instructions and found the broccoli rabe kept its vibrant green color even after the final quick sauté, although I was careful to not overcook it.

A tip for those with a toaster oven: I roasted the garlic in my toaster oven to keep from heating the whole house up. It took the full 40 minutes to get everything nice and soft. I’ll say that I prefer roasting whole heads of garlic—chop off the top “hat” to expose the cloves, place the head in a ramekin or in the center of a large piece of foil, drizzle with a generous amount of olive oil, pepper, and salt, cover with foil, and roast. Let the garlic head cool a bit and then just squeeze to get the softened cloves to come out from the cut end of the head. Much quicker and less work than this method.

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Cindy Zaiffdeen

Oct 02, 2012

This recipe is so easy and flavorful. I usually roast my garlic whole, but was interested to see how it’d turn out by roasting individual cloves. It’s fantastic and less messy and I believe also less wasteful when you can squeeze the roasted garlic out 1 clove at a time rather than trying to squeeze the whole head. I’d recommend using large cloves of garlic, as the smaller cloves were a bit overdone. Rather than boiling the flavor out of the rabe, I steamed it instead in a skillet with a lesser amount of water. It took about 5 minutes but this way all the flavor and nutrition stays within the vegetable. I then followed the recipe exactly as written, adding a big pinch of red pepper flakes. Fantastic! I’ll definitely make this recipe again and again!

Testers Choice
Joel Jenkins

Oct 02, 2012

This is a delicious variation for cooking broccoli rabe. I typically prefer to keep it crisp tender and season it simply with a little sea salt. The sweet addition of roasted garlic adds another dimension to this dish. I would defintely add the red pepper flakes. If you prefer a more mild flavor, just decrease the amount. I feel as though the pepper is necessary to cut some of the garlic oil flavor. Personally, for ease of use, I would cut the top off the garlic head and roast it whole. In the end, you get the same result, and you can squeeze the garlic all at once instead of individual cloves.


Comments
Comments
  1. Emily Teel says:

    This looks absolutely delicious, and in Philly we *know* broccoli rabe.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      No argument there, Emily. Thanks for chiming in. Curious to hear what you think of the recipe after making it….

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