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The best recipe for preparing Broccoli Rabe - lemon, garlic, onion and red pepper flakes are a perfect complement to this healthy green vegetable! Plus we also share the trick to removing the bitterness from this delicious green!

My husband Jack and I love our green vegetables, and fall is the perfect time of year to look for fresh Broccoli Rabe at the market! Broccoli rabe is available year round, but peak season for this vegetable (here in the United States) is Fall to Spring.

Broccoli rabe (or rapini) is a popular Italian vegetable that resembles a slender, leafy broccoli – but according to Wikipedia, it’s actually a relative of the turnip! It has a reputation for having a bitter flavor – but when cooked correctly, that bitterness is removed, and the bold and slightly nutty flavor is deliciously complemented with salty, citrusy or zesty flavors.

In addition to selecting fresh in-season broccoli rabe, the trick to removing the bitterness from this vegetable is to blanch it in hot water for a few minutes, then plunging it into ice water so it doesn’t become overcooked. (It should be served al dente – still slightly firm but not hard.)  Our recipe then combines the broccoli rabe with onions, garlic, lemon and a touch of red pepper flakes – and these simple flavors are really fantastic with this delicious and healthy green!  If you’ve never had broccoli rabe before – please give it a try!

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Broccoli Rabe - A Family Feast

Broccoli Rabe

  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 15 mins
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 2-3 servings


  • 1 pound broccoli rabe, ends trimmed off and discarded
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup onion sliced thick vertically
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • Lemon zest from half a lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice


  1. Bring a medium pan of water to a boil and add trimmed broccoli rabe.
  2. Cook 2 minutes, remove broccoli and plunge into ice water bath. Once cooled, drain the broccoli rabe.
  3. In a 12” skillet over medium heat, add olive oil and heat until hot and add onions. Sauté onions 2-3 minutes. Add garlic and pepper flakes and cook one more minute.
  4. Add lemon zest, drained broccoli rabe, salt and pepper and cook just until broccoli is tender (1-2 minutes).
  5. Remove from heat, add lemon juice and serve immediately.

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  • Michele Renard wrote:

    This is exactly the kind of recipe I’ve been looking for! I want to make broccoli rabe for a dinner party and need to serve about 24 people. Do you think I can do any of this ahead of time to save some prep work?

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Michele – You can definitely do some of the prep ahead of time – slicing the onions, zesting the lemon and measuring out all of the spices – but unfortunately, the broccoli rabe will taste best freshly cooked and served immediately. Hope that helps!

  • Cara Ivey wrote:

    I’ve heard of it, I’ve seen it in the market, but I have never cooked it!! I really do need to try it!

    • Martha wrote:

      It’s definitely worth a try Cara – We love our greens! Let us know how you like it! (The Polenta recipe I listed below this one is another favorite of ours that uses broccoli rabe too!)

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