Home ยป Bitter Balsamic Broccoli Rabe

Bitter Balsamic Broccoli Rabe

Broccoli Rabe might look like Broccoli or Broccolini, but it’s actually more closely related to turnips! Which explains why this deep green, leafy vegetable (also known as Rapini) tastes intensely earthy, vegetal, and bitter.

In this easy side dish recipe, I decided to accentuate the bitterness, instead of toning it down, with ingredients that work with the flavor rather than trying mask it.

Robust garlic and spicy cayenne make to make it savory, sweet raisins for contrast, and a splash of balsamic to compliment the bitter greens.

The result is delicious and best of all, this side dish is incredibly healthy and quick and easy to make!


According to cronometer.com, 1 cup of cooked Broccoli Rabe:

  • is rich in vitamins A, C, E, and K
  • contains 5.5g of protein
  • contains 4g of fiber
  • and offers iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, and zinc
  • also offers folate, choline, and several b vitamins


This might sound strange but ever since I saw Nikole from UrHealthNut make a Portuguese dish with broccoli rabe and mashed potatoes, I’ve been pairing the two side dishes together and I still can’t get over how delicious the combination of sautรฉed broccoli rabe is with mashed potatoes! I never would have thought of that combo, but now I love it!

So much so in fact, that I almost never serve it as a side dish without mashed potatoes on the side too. So my tip for you is to plan on making mashed potatoes when you make broccoli rabe, they really go together so well and it’s my current favorite side dish combo.

Serves 4

  • 2 bunches of Broccoli Rabe, about 4 cups de-stemmed and chopped
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 1.5 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 8 dashes of cayenne pepper
  • 3 tbsp raisisns
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • kosher salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes


Start by de-stemming the Broccoli Rabe. Then give the leaves and the florets a rough chop and set aside. Finely mince the garlic and set that aside too.


Add to a large pan with a lid along with 1/4 cup of water and 3 big pinches of kosher salt.

Cover and steam for 4 minutes or until bright green and softened.

Lower the heat to medium low and add in the olive oil, garlic, cayenne pepper, and raisins. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until the garlic is softened and the greens are wilted.

Add three big pinches of salt and about 10 grinds of freshly cracked black pepper, stir to combine.

Finish by drizzling on balsamic, mix well, and then taste and add additional salt and pepper if desired.


Top with red pepper flakes for an extra layer of flavor and kick and serve warm.

Serving suggestion ๐Ÿ‘‡

In this photo, I heated up leftover vegan mac and cheese, arugula, some plain chickpeas, and leftover Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes that I’d meal- prepped the day before. I paired this with Balsamic Broccoli Rabe and drizzled tahini and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice over everything (but especially on the chickpeas!)

A pinch of salt and some parsley on top was the perfect finishing touch, and dinner was served.

Note: this looks somewhat elaborate, but all I did was heat up leftovers, open and rinse a can of chickpeas, and quickly sautรฉed some Broccoli Rabe.

The tahini, lemon juice, and sea salt really tied everything together and this 5 minute dinner was ready – and delicious! – thanks to quick-cooking side dishes like this one and the magic of meal prep…or food prep, really.

More about how I food prep rather than meal prep here:

Food Prep > Meal Prep

  • You can change up the greens here if you like. Milder options like kale or Swiss Chard work well with this recipe too!
  • I sometimes use vegan butter instead of olive oil which gives this dish extra flavor ๐Ÿ‘Œ

I hope you enjoy this healthy recipe! If you’ve never had Broccoli Rabe, the bitterness might throw you off a little at first but the garlicky, salty, savory, and sweetness of the other ingredients really do make it so tasty. And serving it with creamy mashed potatoes is a dream, so definitely give that combo a try!

I always feel so good when I eat big plants of veggies like this! I hope you will too ๐Ÿ˜Š

Happy cooking!


Nicole Vranjican

Hey! I’m Nicole and I make practical vegan recipes for REAL life. I cook with simple, easy to find ingredients and I’m passionate about creating delicious plant-based meals that everyone will love!

I hope you enjoy my recipes and videos :) Happy Cooking!

Find me on: Instagram

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