Spicy Italian Style Broccoli Rabe

If you’ve never enjoyed broccoli rabe, then this Spicy Italian Style Broccoli Rabe may convert you.  Blanching the broccoli rabe and then sauteing in a flavorful and spicy oil, removes the bitterness that many find off-putting.

A plate of spicy Italian style broccoli rabe - broccoli rabe sauteed with garlic, red pepper flakes, pine nuts, and Parmesan cheese.

I like to serve this classic Italian side dish with Chicken Vesuvio, a Classic Caprese Salad, and Caramel Macchiato Gelato for a satisfying Italian meal.


Broccoli rabe, also called Rapini in Italian, is a cruciferous vegetable with leaves, buds that resemble little broccoli heads, and stems.  All of the plant is edible and it has a distinctive bitter flavor that mellows with cooking.

It is rich in Vitamins A, K, C, and full of minerals like calcium, folate, and Iron.  Plus it offers a ton of fiber.  

Because of its bitter edge, it pairs well with rich meats, especially pork and sausage.


This is a winter vegetable, so it’s in season from October through February.

Look for dark green stems that are not wrinkled or woody looking.  The leaves should be dark green and not withered.

Finally, the buds should be tightly closed and green, with no yellow or brown spots.

A plate of spicy Italian style broccoli rabe - broccoli rabe sauteed with garlic, red pepper flakes, pine nuts, and Parmesan cheese.


  • Trim the ends of the broccoli rabe to remove the tougher parts of the stem.  Leave the leaves on the stems.  Those will be eaten as well.
  • Because broccoli rabe is bitter, it helps to blanch it first in lemon water.  This will eliminate a lot of the sharp bitter flavor.
  • Once blanched, drain it and gently squeeze out the excess water.
  • Next, the vegetable will be sauteed in olive oil, garlic, chili flakes, and pine nuts until it’s very tender.
  • Season with salt and pepper, and then sprinkle with provolone cheese.
  • A final bit of lemon before serving enhances the flavor of the vegetable and brightens the dish.




Garlicky, Spicy Italian-style broccoli rabe is an easy and delicious way to eat your greens and make a boring weeknight entree something special.

  • Author: mbrinkley3717
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Blanche & Saute
  • Cuisine: Italian



1 pound broccoli rabe, tough, non-leafy stems removed

4 tablespoons olive oil

4 garlic cloves, very finely minced

1 teaspoon red chili flakes

¼ cup pine nuts

2 tablespoons shaved aged provolone cheese

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

1 lemon, cut in half


Bring a large pot of water to a full rolling boil.  Heavily salt the water and add ½ lemon.

Meanwhile, trim the stems from the broccoli rabe and add them to the boiling water.

Cook until they’re tender – about 5-7 minutes.

Drain the broccoli rabe and push on them to remove any excess water.

In a large skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil.

Saute the minced garlic and chili flakes until fragrant – about 2 minutes.

Sprinkle in the pine nuts and toast for about 1 minute.

Add the broccoli rabe and stir to coat with the garlic-chili oil. 

Cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes or until tender.

Season with salt and pepper.

Remove from the heat and add the provolone cheese.  Toss lightly and spoon the vegetables onto a serving platter.

Squeeze the remaining lemon over the plate of veggies.

Serve hot.

Keywords: vegetables, broccoli rabe, Spicy Italian-style broccoli rabe, side dish recipes, green vegetables, Italian-style vegetables