A sweet and spicy broccoli rabe recipe that takes the bitterness right out of the nutrient dense vegetable in this easy sauté.

If I was half way good at this blogging thing I would’ve had a very entertaining (only in retrospect) story for you today involving a 5 mile run, a thunderstorm, and a towed car.

Whipping out the camera and properly documenting such events when they are actually occurring, however, was just not second nature at the time.

There were the practical thoughts such as my phone getting ruined from the torrential rain I got to stand in while calling Ulysses 25 times to no avail.

And, there was also the reality that while this was happening I was in no way thinking about how *blog worthy* the event was.

I’ll leave it up to your imagination the expletives that were coming from my mouth instead.

Also, I like to try and keep my blog content under the $175 price point.

Yeah, that was the most expensive run of my life.

Broccoli rabe in a cast iron skillet with a spoon topped with pine nuts and raisins.
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So instead of funny stories, I shall give you vegetables in the form of this sweet and spicy broccoli rabe recipe.

I know, it’s a sorry excuse for a tradeoff.

I promise it’s good though.

To make it even better I highly recommend you start here.

Wine + music. A cook’s best friend.

I’ll give you a minute to open the bottle.

Ok, ready? Good.

We eat a lot of broccoli. Like a lot, a lot.

I buy at least 4 heads of the stuff a week. It’s easy, it’s cheap and it’s good for you.

Every week I walk right up to the broccoli section, grab my plain ‘ole broccoli and move on.

Yesterday, however, I decided to get crazy and pay broccoli’s more expensive and bitter cousin, broccoli rabe, some attention.

I used to hate this stuff as a kid.

My parents loved it though and therefore it would inevitably end up on our dinner plates at least once a week.

If dad was working late, mom just boiled it.

When dad was home, however, it got sautéed in lots of yummy olive oil and doused in salt. The days dad was home were much better.

Broccoli rabe side dish recipe with toasted pine nuts and dried cherries and raisins in a skillet.

Alone, broccoli rabe is a pretty bitter green and doesn’t have many redeeming qualities besides its nutritional profile. That’s why you have to jazz it up.

And jazz it up I did.

Garlic, red pepper, pine nuts (aka little nuggets of gold as referred to in these summer herb stuffed tomatoes), raisins and dried cherries.

Spicy & sweet may sound like a weird combo but, I assure you it works here.


Ingredients for the Best and Easiest Broccoli Rabe Recipe

  • broccoli rabe
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • cloves of garlic
  • red pepper flakes – omit if you don’t like spicy
  • raisins, chopped
  • dried cherries
  • pine nuts
  • salt & pepper

Broccoli rabe sautéed with garlic, red pepper flakes and olive oil in a skillet with a metal spoon.

How to Make Broccoli Rabe

Boil a pot of water and cook the broccoli rabe for a couple of minutes. Quickly drain it and set it aside.

Over medium high, heat a skillet up and add a little olive oil.

Sauté the garlic and red pepper flakes for just a minute, being careful to not burn the garlic.

Add the rabe and season fairly generously with salt and pepper. Stir and cook for another couple of minutes.

Toss in the raisins and cherries.

Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle on the pine nuts.

Many like to serve rapini with Italian sausage. If you want to do that, brown the sausage before adding the garlic.

Easy broccoli rabe recipe on a plate with a spoon.

Common FAQs & Expert Tips

Broccoli Rabe vs. Broccolini

Rapini (broccoli rabe) is considered a cruciferous vegetable like Brussels and kale. It goes by a few names and you may hear it also called broccoletti, broccoli raab, spring raab and ruvo kale.

Broccolini is a hybrid of two different types of broccoli and has a sweeter and milder taste. These may look like “baby broccoli” in the produce section.

When is broccoli rabe in season?

Its peak seasons are in cooler weather so think September through early winter, and maybe just before Spring sets in.

Can you make broccoli rabe without blanching?

Technically blanching is just the technique of boiling something quickly before storing or using another cooking method.

But people often associate the ice bath (also known as shocking) with blanching to turn it into a whole process, which leads me to another FAQ. See below.

How to cook broccoli rabe so it’s less bitter?

The key is in the blanching!

Most people hate the taste of broccoli rabe because of the bitterness, but if you just boil it for 2 minutes before sautéing it makes a world of difference!

This also locks in that deep green color. Otherwise, it tends to yellow with cooking.

What part of broccoli rabe do you eat?

The entire stalk is edible, but the ends do need trimming before cooking them.

Served with grilled shrimp skewers for dinner? It’s fantastic.

Sweet and spicy broccoli rabe blanched then sautéed in olive oil and garlic with raisins and pine nuts on a  serving plate.

More greens like this to try:

Simple Sautéed Swiss Chard
Dandelion Greens + Beans Skillet
Girl and the Goat Grilled Broccoli
Simple Grilled Baby Bok Choy
Roasted Tomato Spinach Salad with Citrus Mustard Vinaigrette

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5 from 7 votes

Sweet and Spicy Broccoli Rabe

Servings: 4 servings
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 20 minutes
Sweet and spicy broccoli rabe.
A sweet and spicy broccoli rabe recipe that takes the bitterness right out of the nutrient dense vegetable in this easy saute.


  • 1 head of broccoli rabe, washed with ends trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons raisins, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons dried cherries, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  • Once boiling, add broccoli rabe and cook for just 2 minutes (this is called blanching).
  • While broccoli rabe cooks in the water, add olive oil to a skillet over medium heat.
  • Once hot, add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for 30 seconds to a 1 minute, careful not to burn garlic.
  • Strain the broccoli rabe from the water and add to the skillet. Season generously with salt and pepper and toss to coat in the olive oil and garlic mixture. Cook for an additional two minutes then turn off the heat.
  • Add raisins and cherries and cook for another 1-2 minutes and garnish with pine nuts before serving.


Serving: 1SERVINGCalories: 157kcalCarbohydrates: 16gProtein: 3gFat: 10gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 8gSodium: 116mgFiber: 4gSugar: 8g

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

Additional Info

Course: Side Dishes
Cuisine: Italian
Founder and Writer at Running to the Kitchen | About

Gina Matsoukas is an AP syndicated writer. She is the founder, photographer and recipe developer of Running to the Kitchen — a food website focused on providing healthy, wholesome recipes using fresh and seasonal ingredients. Her work has been featured in numerous media outlets both digital and print, including MSN, Huffington post, Buzzfeed, Women’s Health and Food Network.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    This is my new favorite side dish! Love the flavor from the raisins and cherries and the added crunch for the nuts. The red pepper flakes also add the perfect amount of spice. Yum!

  2. This is my absolute favorite broccoli rabe recipe! I make it all the time and it turns out perfectly every time!

  3. Loved your story, so sorry about your expensive run! Yikes! But actually made for a fun intro to this unique veggie! Which was amazing BTW, loved the addition of the cherries and crunchy pine nuts!