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5 Tasty Ways to Make Broccoli Rabe Less Bitter

Kristie Leong M.D. is a family practitioner who believes in the power of nutrition and a healthy lifestyle to prevent and fight illness.

Broccoli rabe is a green leafy vegetable that tastes like broccoli but has a much more pungent flavor. But if you don't cook it properly, it can have an unpleasant bitter taste that can be off-putting. Some of the bitterness comes from the high levels of sulfur in the vegetable.

Broccoli rabe also contains compounds that help the plant ward off pests, and they have a bitter flavor too. However, these same compounds have potential health benefits.

It's this bitterness that gives this vegetable its unique flavor. Some people love it, while others find it a bit overpowering. How many more people would eat this healthy vegetable if they could tame the bitterness?

Fortunately, there are ways to reduce its bitterness. Let's look at some methods you can use to make this nutrient-dense vegetable less bitter and more pleasing to the taste buds.

1. Roast It

One of the best ways to make it less bitter is to roast it. Roasting at high heat caramelizes and brings out the vegetable's natural sweetness.

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Cut the broccoli rabe into bite-sized pieces and spread on a baking sheet.
  3. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Roast for 10-12 minutes, or until the broccoli rabe is tender and slightly browned.

Enjoy as a side dish or add to your favorite pasta or salad recipe.

2. Boil or Blanch It

Boiling and blanching broccoli rabe will also tone down the bitterness but will also lead to some nutrient loss, particularly vitamin C and B-vitamins. When you boil any vegetable, some of the vitamins end up in the cooking water. You can preserve the nutrients by saving the cooking water and adding it to soups or stews to reclaim the nutrients.

Blanching Instructions

  1. Fill a large pot with water and bring it to a boil.
  2. Add the broccoli rabe and let it cook for around 3 minutes.
  3. After the allotted time, remove the broccoli rabe from the pot with a slotted spoon and place it in a bowl of ice water. This will stop the cooking process and preserve the bright green color of the vegetable. When you're ready to serve, simply reheat it.

3. Add Lemon Juice

Lemon juice also helps offset the bitterness of broccoli rabe. After steaming or boiling, blanch the it n boiling water for two minutes, then remove it and drop it into cold water. Once retrieving it from the water, add fresh lemon juice to taste.

This simple technique will mellow out the bitterness and make it more palatable. If you have broccoli rabe, you've already cooked and want to counter bitterness, squeeze half of a small lemon into your pan with the broccoli rabe and heat until just warm.

4. Grill It

Grilling is one of the tastiest ways to enjoy the health benefits of any vegetable. The high heat of the grill brings out the natural sugars in the vegetables, leaving behind a sweet and smoky flavor. The vegetables also absorb the flavors of the grill, resulting in a unique and delicious taste. grilled vegetables are a healthy and delicious option for any meal.

Instructions

  1. Preheat your grill to medium-high heat.
  2. Trim the ends off of the broccoli rabe and cut it into smaller pieces if desired.
  3. Toss the broccoli rabe with a bit of olive oil and salt.
  4. Once the grill is hot, place the vegetable on the grates and cook for about 5 minutes. Flip once and ensure each side is slightly charred.
  5. Remove from the grill and serve immediately.
  6. Enjoy!

5. Dress It Up With Garlic

Another way to make it less bitter is serve it with a tasty garlic sauce. For even more sweetness, brown the garlic to bring out its natural sweetness. To brown garlic, place it on a sheet of aluminum foil and drizzle with olive oil or butter.

The foil will help prevent the garlic from burning too quickly, so you'll have more time for browning. Cover and cook until crispy, about 10 minutes at most (you can check it after 5 minutes). Use the browned garlic to make a garlic sauce to enjoy with broccoli rabe.

Another option is to steam or sautee broccoli rabe with olive oil and garlic and top it off with a splash of lemon juice to further counter the bitterness. Add some red pepper flakes for an extra kick!

Enjoy This Healthy Vegetable

Enjoy broccoli rabe with less bitterness. Being a member of the cruciferous vegetable family, it's one of the healthiest vegetables you can eat. Now you know how to best counter its bitterness.

References

  • "Broccoli Rabe: Nutrition, Recipes, and More - Healthline." 05 Apr. 2022, https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/broccoli-rabe-nutrition.
  • Raiola A, Errico A, Petruk G, Monti DM, Barone A, Rigano MM. Bioactive Compounds in Brassicaceae Vegetables with a Role in the Prevention of Chronic Diseases. Molecules. 2017 Dec 23;23(1):15. doi: 10.3390/molecules23010015. PMID: 29295478; PMCID: PMC5943923.
  • Moreno DA, Carvajal M, López-Berenguer C, García-Viguera C. Chemical and biological characterisation of nutraceutical compounds of broccoli. J Pharm Biomed Anal. 2006 Aug 28;41(5):1508-22. doi: 10.1016/j.jpba.2006.04.003. Epub 2006 May 19. PMID: 16713696.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.