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What is the secret to removing the bitterness from Broccoli Rabe? I have followed many differemt recipes and it's still too bitter. Tonight i parboiled it in salted water and then sauteed with garlic and evoo....

asked by mskw about 4 years ago
14 answers 26807 views

Sam is a trusted home cook.

added about 4 years ago

The parboil is on the right track. You might add touch of white vinegar to the water it will also help 'fix' the green color. You could even soak the greens in water and white vinegar before proceeding to the parboil. That will also help restore some of the cell walls of wilted greens.

added about 4 years ago

Broccoli rabe is bitter and most recipes using it do count on something of a bite from it. Blanching it first is the best way to cut a little of the bitterness - put it into some rapidly boiling water for a couple of minutes, then put it into cold water to stop the cooking. Then saute into your dish. If you still don't like the bitterness, you can try other, similar vegetables such as Chinese broccoli (guy lian or sometimes gai lan) or even kale which are milder.

added about 4 years ago

Thanks so much for your answers. I thought broccoli rabe and chinese broccoli were the same thing, and the flavor of chinese broccoli is what i have always been looking for. Good to know!

added about 4 years ago

Haha- thank you Pierino-- I was thinking that I was missing something my whole life. We always just sautee it up w garlic and oil, and a bit of crushed red pepper. Maybe a bit of sausage mixed in. Love that bite. :)

added about 4 years ago

Love that pierino!

added about 4 years ago

Agree with Pierino -- you probably won't want to eat broccoli rabe if you don't care for its bitter taste. I myself love the bite of broccoli rabe, but I almost never cook it on its own. My favorite way to cook it is to combine it with other flavors like garlic, lemon, and anchovy. A little bit of Italian sausage compliments it nicely, too.


Chris is a trusted source on General Cooking

added about 4 years ago

Oh pierino, to think I almost didn't click on this question! I was reading it, thinking, "Yeah? Sounds like broccoli rabe to me..."

But I did want to make one point, and that is that tastes change. mskw, it sounds like you just don't like broccoli rabe right now. But try it again and then again. You may be surprised to find that at some point your taste buds have aged. Or to put it more nicely, "matured."

added about 4 years ago

I like mild Chinese broccoli, done with a little oyster sauce, but that is another thing.

As other's have said, broccoli rabe is prized for the assertive, bitter taste as a contrast. Combine with pasta, Italian sausage, red pepper flakes and Parmesan cheese, for instance.

You can tame bitter greens by cooking them in a little chicken stock, I've found.


pierino is a trusted source on General Cooking and Tough Love.

added about 4 years ago

Well, I guess the consensus is that attempting to take the "bitter" out of rapini is like trying to take the "sweet" out of honey.

added about 4 years ago

While parboiling will lower the rheostat a little, I agree that bitter is an essential part of broc rabe's character. Like briny is to an oyster or tart is to a lemon.

But, I think using it differently might make it appeal to you more. I love a simple saute with garlic, olive oil, hot pepper flakes...but that's really broc rabe straight up. If you add some raisins/toasted pine nuts to the pan, the sweet counterpoint balances the bitter a bit. Or, in a classic pasta with broc rabe/sausage/parm, the fattiness of the sausage sort of mellows the bitter a little (and a bite combining pasta with the broc tempers it too.)

I'd try different preps like that before abandoning the rabe. Then again, maybe it's just not your thing. (For instance, no matter how wonderfully fennel is done, I cannot get past its licorice note - gives me a bad Good & Plenty flashback every time :-)

added 9 months ago

This is the first time I am trying broccoli rabe. I have never had it or tried to cook it. I will try to cook it the way that is suggested. Thanks for asking this question becaue I had no idea that it would be bitter or how to cook it correctly.

added 5 months ago



Meg is a trusted home cook.

added 5 months ago
Another way to temper the bitterness is to cook the broccoli rabe with lemon and cream. It IS still bitter, tho... no way around it.