Have you ever tasted steamed or boiled rapini and found its taste slightly bitter? Make this leafy vegetable as we Southern Italians do and I’m sure you’ll love it.

Italians know that rapini must be sautéed with garlic and olive oil in order to tone down its pungent flavor. Here’s my family’s special recipe. Add some fresh, crusty bread to your dining experience and let me know what you think.

Buon Appetito!

Prep time: 10 to 12 minutes
Serves: 4 to 6 (as a side dish)

1 bunch fresh rapini (also known as broccoli rabe or rape)
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
½ cup chicken broth (or water for vegan recipe)
½ to ¾ teaspoon salt

1. With a knife, remove and discard one inch from bottom tips of rapini. Cut the remaining rapini stalk lengths into thirds. Wash and spin dry the rapini twice; set aside.

2. In a 6 or 8-quart saucepot on a stove burner set on high, heat the oil with the garlic slices. When the garlic starts sizzling, stir it with a wooden spoon. Sauté the garlic about 1 minute or until it turns golden.

3. Immediately transfer the saucepot with the garlic and oil to a cold burner and let cool about 2 minutes. Add the washed and spun rapini to the garlic and oil. Cover the saucepot, return it to the hot burner set on high heat and sautée the rapini 1 to 2 minutes, turning it over with tongs.

4. Set heat on medium high and add ½ cup of water or broth. Cook, uncovered, for an additional minute. Stir in the salt.

Serve rapini as a side dish to meats, fish, chicken or turkey. Alternatively, simply enjoy the rapini with fresh bread (be sure to soak the bread in the rapini broth).

Text & Photograph ©2011 Nancy DeLucia Real