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Garlicky Broccoli Rabe

Broccoli rabe (also known as rapini) is a bitter green vegetable that is easily transformed into a family favorite Italian side dish with a few ingredients.

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Growing up in the Midwest I wasn’t exposed to a lot of authentic Italian food. But once I moved to New York and married into an Italian family, that quickly changed!

Overhead view of a bowl of garlicky broccoli rabe.

Broccoli rabe was one of the classic Italian ingredients that it took me a while to appreciate. My in-laws absolutely love broccoli rabe, but since I didn’t have much experience with bitter greens, they were fairly offputting to me at first.

But once I tried it prepared with lots of garlic like this, I was hooked!

Broccoli rabe on a cutting board with a skillet of garlic and a pot of boiling water in the background.

What is broccoli rabe?

Broccoli rabe (also known as rapini or broccoli raab) is a bitter, leafy green cruciferous vegetable. It has little flowers that sort of resemble broccoli, but the taste is very different.

The stems, leaves, and flowers of the rapini are all edible. A quick trim of the very thickest part at the stem end of each plant is all that’s needed to prep it for cooking.

The bitterness of broccoli rabe can be mellowed quite a bit when cooked properly. Broccoli rabe is one of those vegetables that tastes best when it seems like it’s “overcooked”.

How to Cook Broccoli Rabe

I like getting the garlic oil started first. I use 6-8 cloves of garlic for the broccoli rabe. It may seem like a lot, and it is, but the garlic gets gently heated in the oil and gets nice and caramelized and sweet. Feel free to cut back the garlic a bit, but I’m telling you that a lot is the authentic way to make it.

The sliced garlic and some red pepper flakes go into a skillet along with olive oil. After those things are in the pan, then you turn on the heat. This way it works up nice and gently and the garlic gets golden and delicious. This process usually takes 5-10 minutes.

I like to trim off a little bit of the stem ends, then slice the broccoli rabe into 2-inch lengths. I put it into boiling water for just 2-3 minutes before draining it and adding it to the skillet with the garlic.

Broccoli rabe on a cutting board with a skillet of garlic and a pot of boiling water in the background.

Once the broccoli rabe is finished cooking, you’re ready to enjoy!

Broccoli rabe is great as a side dish. There’s an Italian restaurant near my house that does grilled chicken with broccoli rabe that’s outstanding. I even made a Chicken and Broccoli Rabe Pizza with Alfredo Sauce as a tribute to that very dish!

This recipe would be great served alongside something like pan-seared salmon, and it’s also great mixed in with pasta and olive oil.

You could even make it one component of a hearty bowl-style meal!

A big ol’ batch of this garlicky broccoli rabe disappears really quickly in my house, and it got the stamp of approval from my Italian husband and his parents. Woohoo!

Overhead view of a bowl of garlicky broccoli rabe.

I hope you’ll consider trying out this garlicky, delicious side dish recipe. And if you do, please let me know what you think of it by giving it a rating and commenting below!

Looking for more simple side dishes? Check out some of our favorite recipes:

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Recipe for Garlicky Broccoli Rabe

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Overhead view of a bowl of garlicky broccoli rabe.

Garlicky Broccoli Rabe

  • Author: Big Flavors from a Tiny Kitchen - Ashley Covelli
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 2-4 Servings 1x
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian


Broccoli rabe (also known as rapini) is a bitter green vegetable that is easily transformed into a family favorite Italian side dish with a few ingredients.


  • 1 bunch broccoli rabe, ends trimmed, cut into 2-inch lengths
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 68 cloves garlic, sliced into 1/4-inch thick pieces
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt


  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add broccoli rabe to the boiling water and let cook until slightly softened, about 2-3 minutes. Drain well and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes in a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté until the garlic starts to get some caramel-brown bits, about 5-10 minutes. Add the broccoli rabe, season with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and sauté, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low and continue to sauté, stirring occasionally, for an additional 20-30 minutes.


Make sure to place the oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes in the skillet before you turn the heat on so that it gently warms the oil and garlic together as the skillet heats up.


  • Serving Size:
  • Calories: 203
  • Sugar: 0.3 g
  • Sodium: 324.1 mg
  • Fat: 21.3 g
  • Saturated Fat: 3 g
  • Carbohydrates: 4.2 g
  • Fiber: 1.3 g
  • Protein: 1.8 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg

Keywords: broccoli rabe, bitter greens, Italian

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Note: This post includes affiliate links for items that I genuinely enjoy. Big Flavors will receive a tiny commission from purchases made through affiliate links on this site at no added cost to you. This allows us to cover site-related expenses and helps to keep us cooking up a storm!

Ashley Covelli is a food photographer, recipe developer, and culinary instructor based in Ossining, New York. She loves helping people become enthusiastic and adventurous in the kitchen so that they can build skills and confidence to cook for themselves and their loved ones. She can almost always be found with at least 3 different beverages within arm's reach.


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