Broccoli rabe, also called rapini, is such an amazing veggie.  Its uniquely bitter taste makes it an excellent addition to a variety of Italian dishes but is equally tasty served as a simple side.  This sauteed broccoli rabe recipe cooks in under 10 minutes and it just might become your new favorite side dish!

Sauteed broccoli rabe in pan on blue board.

We eat broccoli rabe almost every week.  It goes particularly well with orecchiette pasta and Italian sausage.  That dish or a variant is on almost every Italian restaurant’s menu in the New York metro area!

Another great to serve it is with a simple seared chicken breast, melted mozzarella, and cherry peppers.  Delicious!

Broccoli rabe would also be a perfect broccoli substitute in this pasta con broccoli recipe.

What is broccoli rabe (rapini)?

Broccoli rabe, also called rapini, is not related to broccoli – in fact, it’s actually a close relative to mustard greens and turnips.  It took on the broccoli moniker to disguise the veggie and make it more appealing to customers. 

Many groups, outside of Italians, do not like it.  It has a distinct taste, that to some may be acquired and then finally loved.  For more info on broccoli rabe, read this article.

Broccoli rabe is inexpensive and widely available on the east coast of America.  It might prove more difficult to find in other regions of the US, depending on where you live, but if you have an Italian specialty store nearby, there is a good chance they will stock it.


How to buy it

Look for plants that are very firm with dark green leaves, tight flower buds, and no yellowing.  If you see yellowing in the flowers, make a hard pass because that means the plant has bolted, making an already bitter green veggie even more bitter.

The brand I come across most frequently is Andy Boy.  They hold a bunch of patents on broccoli rabe and are the largest producer in America.  Sometimes, here in Long Island, I’ll run into someone who grows it themselves.  A former neighbor of mine used to grow every veggie imaginable in his backyard.  He gifted broccoli rabe to me a few times and I’m eternally grateful.

Ingredients on cutting board: One bunch of broccoli rabe, red pepper flakes, and head of garlic.

What Italians like to argue over

Besides the sauce vs gravy debate, discussing how to cook this Italian veggie the ‘right’ way always stirs up controversy.

The question –  “Do you boil or blanch your broccoli rabe?”  The ensuing typical discussion might sound something like this, perhaps with a few added expletives (I kept this version G rated):

  • Gino – “No. I like to saute it in garlic and oil and then add a bit of water to steam it for a few minutes before finishing with a touch of extra virgin olive oil.”
  • Vito – “That’s blasphemy, you must blanch it to remove all the bitterness first.”
  • Gino – “Why the heck would I want to do that?  It’s broccoli rabe, after all, it’s supposed to be a bitter veggie.”

I tend to agree with Gino, broccoli rabe is bitter and delicious, the goal should not be to remove every bit of the unique flavor, after all, that is what makes this veggie so different from an equally delicious, albeit different veggie such as broccoli. 

Ditto for radicchio’s unique bitterness.  That being said if you want to blanch it first, go for it! 

I sometimes do blanch it,  give it a chop, and add it to sausage and orecchiette when I’m in a hurry.  It just depends on the application.  In these Broccoli Rabe Italian Sausage Rolls, I simply roasted it in the oven with olive oil and salt.  Outside grilling?  Throw it right on the grill grates for 5-7 minutes with some olive oil.  I love it that way!

How to saute broccoli rabe with garlic and oil

Each numbered pic corresponds to the numbered written instructions below.

  1. Begin by mincing 5 cloves of garlic like shown.
  2. Chop off the bottom 1″ of the broccoli rabe.

Sauteed broccoli rabe recipe process shot collage group number one.

  1. In a deep large pan (that has a lid), saute the garlic in a 1/4 cup of olive oil over medium-low heat until lightly golden (about 2-3 minutes).
  2. Add the washed broccoli rabe to the pan and mix it once to lightly coat with the garlic and olive oil.  Just pack in it in there, it will reduce substantially during the next steps.
  3. Add a 1/4 cup of water to the pan and turn heat to medium-high.
  4. Cover and steam the broccoli rabe through.

Recipe process shot collage group number two.

  1. After the broccoli rabe turns bright green (about 3-4 minutes), remove the lid and add 1 tsp of kosher salt, and if desired a 1/2 tsp of hot red pepper flakes.  Continue cooking for 2-3 more minutes to evaporate the excess water.
  2. At this point, you can plate and finish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.  Or, bring it to the table right in the pan.  Enjoy!

This veggie pairs well with Chicken Valdostana (it’s in all the recipe pics) a delicious Porchetta Roast or a hearty Pappardelle Bolognese.  Or, just top it on these Italian Instant Pot Pulled Pork Sandwiches.

Black bowl with broccoli rabe on blue table.

Top tips

  • Buy dark green broccoli rabe that shows no signs of yellowing.
  • Always chop off the bottom 1/2″ of the stem (this is the area where it was cut at the farm and is often brown).
  • Steam just enough to maintain its firmness.
  • Use adequate salt – this enhances the flavors of bitter green veggies.

More classic Italian side dishes

If you’ve enjoyed this garlic sauteed broccoli rabe recipe or any recipe on this site, give it a 5-star rating and leave a review.

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Sauteed Broccoli Rabe With Garlic And Olive Oil

5 from 11 votes
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 15 minutes
Servings: 4
An easy Italian side dish of sauteed broccoli rabe with garlic, olive oil, and a touch of red pepper flakes.


  • 1 bunch broccoli rabe
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup water


  • Chop off the bottom 1/2" of the broccoli rabe stems. Rough chop 5 cloves of garlic.
  • In a large deep pan, saute the garlic for 2-3 minutes in a 1/4 cup of olive oil set to medium-low heat.
  • Add the broccoli rabe to the pan and give it all a stir as best as possible to coat with the olive oil. Just pack it in the pan as it will reduce substantially during the next step.
  • Add a 1/4 cup of water to the pan and cover. Turn heat to medium-high and let the broccoli rabe steam for 3-4 minutes until bright green.
  • Remove lid and season with 1 tsp of kosher salt and if desired a 1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes. Mix the broccoli rabe with a wooden spoon and saute for 2-3 more minutes. Turn off the heat and drizzle a couple of tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil on top. Enjoy!


  • Buy dark green broccoli rabe that shows no signs of yellowing.
  • Always chop off the bottom 1/2″ of the stem (this is the area where it was cut at the farm and is often brown).
  • Steam just enough to maintain its firmness.
  • Use adequate salt as bitter veggies need more salt.


Calories: 236kcal | Carbohydrates: 7.6g | Protein: 7.3g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Sodium: 656mg | Potassium: 455mg | Fiber: 6.1g | Sugar: 0.9g | Calcium: 249mg | Iron: 5mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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5 from 11 votes (2 ratings without comment)

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  1. Celeste Benoit says:

    I just love all your recipes and am so glad I found your site! Your broccoli rabe recipe is so much better than the way I was cooking it. Thank you!

  2. Linda says:

    5 stars
    I had never cooked broccoli rabe before, though I think I have eaten it in restaurants. I saw it at the store and bought some because I love broccoli, and this was a change of pace. I looked up this recipe and followed it exactly except I didn’t add the red pepper flakes. It was absolutely delicious! I will definitely be making it again and again. It was an easy recipe for a very delicious and healthy vegetable dish! I did not find it the least bit bitter.

  3. Peggy says:

    5 stars
    Love it

  4. Sandy says:

    5 stars
    I thought I was making brocollirabe pretty much on mark, until I made it this way!!! This is what it really should be! Much easier than my old way-bec that is out the window. I would look no further for a brocollirabe recipe! This is so easy it’s going to be a a regular! FYI-the first time I put a forkful in my mouth I didn’t know if I could get it down it was so I love it! Took some practice but I’m glad I pushed thru it. Thanks for sharing!

  5. susan degross says:

    5 stars
    Thank you for the recipe, I was doing my Brocolli rabe wrong, looks much easier and delicious

  6. Judith says:

    Love broccoli rabe!!!
    I steam and sautée; I blanch but only because I like the bright green color.
    I discovered today that the raw stems are sweet!
    Thanks for your recipe. I upped the garlic as per recipe.

  7. Carolyn says:

    5 stars
    Simple, easy and delicious. I enjoy the bitterness but did blanch it to dial it down a little. Thanks!

    1. Tara says:

      Hi Carolyn, we’re so happy you enjoyed and really appreciate the comment!

  8. Rose says:

    5 stars
    I love, love, your easy to follow &delicious..

    1. James says:

      Hi Rose, Thanks for the comment and so happy to hear you’re enjoying the recipes!

  9. Pamela says:

    In general, if a recipe does not state the type of olive oil to use, should I use:
    1) regular; 2) virgin; 3) extra virgin?
    Enjoy going through your recipes and look forward to start making some of them. They appear far above those on other sites. Many thanks!

    1. Jim says:

      Hi Pamela, thanks for the comment! When I say “olive oil” in a recipe, I’m referring to regular olive oil. If I am using extra virgin, I’ll always say extra virgin olive oil. Hope that helps!

  10. Jim says:

    5 stars
    This is a Great Recipe and almost exactly how I make it. Another Youtube chef who I follow chef Jean Pierre always comments, ” if you can avoid using water in recipes then don’t do it, instead replace the water with stock, chicken, beef or vegetable.” And that’s how I finish this recipe with chicken stock to steam a little.

    1. Jim says:

      Hi Jim, thanks for the comment, and happy you enjoyed the recipe!

      1. Terri Stough says:

        5 stars
        Delicious! I don’t blanch it first, I find the steaming with the water to be sufficient. I discovered this recipe less than a month ago and have made it 3 times already! Wish there were a camera function so I could show you tonight’s result! BUONISSIMI 🤤

        1. Tara says:

          We’re so happy you enjoyed, Terri!