Maybe you come from an Italian family and broccoli rabe (pronounced “rob,” and also called rapini) is a household name for you. Perhaps you live near a deli that makes the best roast pork, provolone and broccoli rabe sandwich, only you never realized you could make a mean batch yourself at home. Most likely, since you’re reading a Philly blog, you’ve at least heard of this vegetable—so let’s take it from there.
It’s not often that something considered “legendary” on the Philly food scene is healthy (see: cheesesteak, Rita’s, Twinkies, et al). Broccoli rate is the nutritious green tucked into the “pork with greens” option at Tony Luke’s; it’s the bitter bite that pairs perfectly with the tender pork. But it also tastes great with all kinds of meats, grains and pastas, and is a fantastic option for a pizza topping. A meatball hoagie with rabe? Out of this world. My husband had never eaten this before marrying me, and the fact that he is over the moon for it now makes me quite proud.
When you see it raw in the grocery store, don’t be intimidated by the fact that it looks like a giant weed. When it’s blanched to remove some bitterness and then sautéed with olive oil and salt, it becomes one of the tastiest ways to get your daily requirement (and then some) of vitamins A and C and plenty of calcium, fiber and potassium to boot.
You might be glancing at my byline and saying to yourself, “Boyd? What does she know about Italian food?” If you need some credibility, my maiden name is DiLullo. Now, paisano, go and make some broccoli rabe.
How to Make the Perfect Broccoli Rabe
Serves two to four
1 large bunch broccoli rabe (about 2 lbs), tough ends trimmed
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press
Pinch crushed red pepper
¼ tsp. kosher salt, or to taste
1. Bring a large pot of water to boil and add 1 tsp. salt (enough to completely submerge broccoli rabe). Add broccoli rabe and let cook about 1 minute (rabe will turn bright green). While it cooks, fill a large mixing bowl with ice water. Bring bowl to edge of stovetop.
2. Using tongs, remove rabe from pot and place in ice water bowl. This is called blanching and in this case, serves to remove some of the bitterness from the rate.
3. When rabe is completely cool, remove from water bowl and spin in a salad spinner to dry or lay on a clean kitchen towel.
4. Heat olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add garlic and sauté 30 seconds or until fragrant.
5. Add rabe and toss to mix with garlic and olive oil. Let cook, stirring occasionally, until rabe is tender (about 8 minutes).
6. Sprinkle with crushed and pepper and salt, to taste. Serve immediately or let cool and store in an airtight container in the fridge.
Per serving: 93 calories, 5.6 grams of fat, 99 milligrams sodium, 6.8 grams carbs, 4.4 grams protein. Also of note, a serving includes 150 percent of your daily vitamin A needs and 171 percent of your vitamin C needs.
Becca Boyd is a wife and mom who teaches culinary courses to students at Radnor High School. She creates healthy and delicious recipes in her West Chester kitchen and blogs about them on her website, Home Beccanomics. See more of Becca’s recipe for Be Well Philly here.