Broccoli rabe, a distant cousin of broccoli, features edible leaves and small, broccoli-like florets. It has a bitter yet nutty flavor, and it works well in recipes requiring cooked greens, as a side dish or in stir-fries. Select fresh rabe with green leaves and tightly closed florets for the best flavor and quality. Proper cleaning gets rid of any grit caught in the florets, and a brief cooking time subdues the bitterness so the vegetable's true flavor can shine.
Fill a bowl with cold water. Hold the rabe bunch by the stems and swish it around in the water to dislodge any dirt in the leaves. Shake off the excess water.
Trim off the tough stem ends with a sharp knife. Cut the leaves into 1- to 2-inch pieces or leave them whole.
Bring a pot of water to a full boil. Add the rabe and boil for two minutes, or until the leaves become tender and bright green. Brief boiling removes bitterness and makes the rabe ready for immediate serving, if you like. Drain the boiled rabe and serve, or prepare to use it in another preparation.
Heat enough olive oil to coat the bottom of a skillet over medium heat. Add the rabe and two or three crushed garlic cloves to the pan. Stir-fry it for one to two minutes in the oil, then serve warm.
Stir-fry rabe with other vegetables and meats, such as sliced, marinated beef. Serve it with brown rice or quinoa to complete the meal.
Add boiled rabe to cold or hot pasta dishes.