Home cooks can always rely on this dish in the fall and winter months. It’s slightly bitter, really healthy, and a great go-to side dish for almost any main course. Broccoli rabe is a favorite in the Italian culinary tradition, as well as in the Italian American one. It is extremely versatile, as a side, with pasta, or in a filling for stuffed pasta. At Felidia, it is sometimes served with the main course, but also often as the base of an appetizer salad, sometimes with roasted squash and burrata or fresh housemade ricotta. In my many years in the restaurant business, I have seen a lot of Italian products slowly permeate the U.S. market, but nothing so much as broccoli rabe, which is now grown on acres upon acres of land in California. It can be found in every major food market, and in homes all over America.
- 2 bunches broccoli rabe
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 6 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
- Kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon crushed peperoncino flakes, or to taste
Cut off the tough ends of the stems of the broccoli rabe. Then, holding a stem with the florets in hand, nick a little piece at the end of the stem with a paring knife, and pull the little piece of the stem toward you, peeling the stem partially. Continue working your way around the stem until it is peeled. As you peel, some of the large, tough outer leaves will also be removed; discard those as well. Repeat with the remaining stems. Wash and drain them in a colander.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Scatter the garlic over the oil, and cook, shaking the pan, until golden brown, about 1 minute. Add the broccoli rabe, and season lightly with salt and the crushed red pepper flakes. Stir and toss to distribute the seasonings.
Pour ¼ cup water into the skillet, and bring to a boil. Cover the skillet tightly, and cook, lifting the lid to turn the stalks occasionally, until the broccoli rabe is tender, about 10 minutes. Taste, and season with additional salt and crushed red pepper if necessary. Serve hot.