Broccoli rapini, which is often called “raab” in English, is a slightly peppery green that’s often disparaged as too bitter. But cookbook author explains that the secret to cooking it is to boil the greens briefly before sautéing to rid them of their excessive bitterness and to tenderize the stalks. If the stalks are still crisp, she continues, they will remain bitter. So there you go. That’s the secret.–Renee Schettler Rossi
What’s The Difference Between Broccoli Rapini and Broccoli Raab?
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
- 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
- Place the potatoes in a pot, add enough 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 of the potatoes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the potatoes and let drain. Set aside until cool enough to handle.
- Meanwhile, using a small, sharp knife or a vegetable peeler, peel the skin from the tough lower stalks of the rapini, which is to say, most of the bottom portion of the stalk. (If your rapini has super slender stalks, don’t bother peeling them.) Cut the stems crosswise into 1 1/2- to 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 2 to 5 minutes, depending on the thickness of the stalks. Drain the greens, reserving a little of the cooking liquid. Set aside.
- 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.
- 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, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer the garlic to a bowl.
- Raise the heat under the skillet or saucepan 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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Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome of this recipe. I like greens ok, finding some preparations more palatable than others. This one looked interesting enough that I wanted to try it out. I loved it! The garlicky flavor permeated the dish nicely and the crispy, creamy potatoes in combination with the tender rapini was excellent. I only have a few small complaints. I’m not sure what the ratio between the potatoes and greens should be, as the recipe wasn’t very specific about either ingredient in terms of size or weight. My potatoes seemed to be on the small side, so I used 4 of them with my nice-sized bunch of rapini. When I make this again, I’ll probably use a vegetable peeler to peel the tough stems, as I had a hard time with my small paring knife.
I loved this combination of meltingly soft broccoli rabe with crisp potatoes. It’s easy to make and even easier to eat! I consumed great piles of it all by myself one night with a roasted chicken and again the next night with some sautéed sausage. It was the perfect accompaniment to both. I know I’ll be making this again, perhaps with some lemon zest or red pepper flakes thrown in for added intrigue.
This recipe is superb. Very easy and pretty fast to make and my daughters LOVED IT. There is nothing like “home fries,” and they work very well with the addition of the garlic and the green leaves. Cannot wait to make it again with a nice grilled steak.
Broccoli rabe seems to not be enjoyed as often as it should be. This recipe has the potential to change that. While it’s not the quickest recipe, the results are worth it. There’s no better consort for this vegetable than Yukon Gold potatoes with crusty exteriors and creamy, soft insides. The broccoli rabe that I used had pencil thin stems, so no peeling was needed and they cooked up tender and not the least bitter. Simple flavorings of garlic and olive oil round out the dish nicely. This recipe makes 4 generous servings. I enjoyed the leftovers the next day on toast with a shaving of parmesan. I would have liked the dish better if it was cut into slightly shorter lengths, say about 1 1/2 inches long instead of 3 inches. The longer pieces were just a bit too long to eat comfortably without cutting them. I’d also cut back the olive oil used by a couple of tablespoons.
If you want a straightforward showcase for broccoli rabe and potatoes, then look no further. It really allows those ingredients to shine, and makes a great vegetarian side dish. The recipe works as written, though if I made it again I would boil the potatoes until they’re not quite tender, as the additional cooking in the pan makes them slightly mushy. I would also use more garlic, because I can never get enough of it, and more broccoli rabe, for the same reason. The recipe is a bit time-consuming, thanks to the potatoes, but quite easy and yields a satisfying reward.
I’m embarrassed to share that I ate the entire 4-serving recipe in one sitting–or standing, in this case, as it happened at the counter next to the stove! I started with the intention to taste it and then share it, but never got that far! This simple and nutritious recipe felt springy and hearty to me, and perfect for these transitional days between winter and spring. The variety of texture and color made both the potatoes and the rapini more special. Initially, I’d thought the rapini might be just as good by itself, but this was not at all the case. The slightly bitter and very bright greens were substantially enhanced by the crisp, buttery Yukon Golds. All I did at the end was to add a bit more salt. I could imagine making this again and adding hot pepper flakes at the end as well, but the dish was completely gone before I had a chance to try it that way.
My husband and I made this 3 times in the last few weeks! We love it. My only changes after the initial batch was keeping the potato skins on (why lose their nutritious benefits?) and using coarse sea salt.
I had a very young bunch of rapini and peeled only half of the stalks, leaving the other stalks as is. There was no difference in tenderness in the finished dish. I also found that simmering the rapini for 5 minutes was too long, so I would suggest just a blanch perhaps if the stalks are thin. There was no bitterness whatsoever. I reserved some cooking liquid but the rapini seemed to hold enough moisture that it wasn’t needed in the end. This dish should be served immediately because if it sits a while the potatoes get softened and lose the crispness from sauteeing. Very delicious nonetheless.
Truthfully, it was a little hard to find broccoli rapini in my regular grocery store, but I did find it at my farmers market. I have made broccoli raab before but just roasted it with some oil and salt and pepper. I really like this preparation method of boiling it first and then sautéing it, though. I thought the crispy potatoes were a wonderful addition. Also, the browned crushed garlic pieces were like little treats every time I came across one in the final dish. A couple of notes on the recipe itself, if you prep the broccoli raab as the first step of the recipe instead of the 2nd, you can keep the potato water boiling and not have to bring the water back to a boil later–just a thought to help save a couple of minutes. I was surprised by the use of 5 tablespoons of oil in the recipe, but it turned out to be just enough and not too oily overall. This was a great side dish!
This broccoli rabe dish is a reasonably quick dish to put together that has simple flavors that can be paired with a variety of meats. Plus it is a very low-fat dish which also is a plus. Though I think I would like to add a shaving or two of some parmesan at the end to finish it. Also the addition of some fresh rosemary or your favorite fresh herbs would be an added treat as well.
This isn’t a quick vegetable dish. It involves boiling potatoes, boiling rapini, sautéing garlic, sautéing potatoes, and sautéing greens. While it isn’t quick, it is satisfying—a pleasing combination of bitter greens and crisp potatoes. The dish is a perfect side for an Italian meal or a roast chicken. I deviated slightly from the recipe. Instead of peeling the rapini stems and then cutting them, I just cut them off completely and discarded them. I also generously salted the potatoes while they were sautéing, and I felt that the final dish all but cried out for a spritz of lemon.