The leafy greens of broccoli rabe (rapini) might not seem like an obvious choice for roasting, and they are more commonly sautéed or even stewed, but the dry heat of a hot oven has a fabulous effect on these cruciferous vegetables. It reduces them down to more manageable stalks and bits, browns their ruffly edges, and tames their famously bitter edge with ease.
While this recipe assumes you have one bunch of broccoli rabe, this recipe is easy to double or triple, as long as you have the pans and oven space to make it so. The real key, as is almost always the case with roasting vegetables, is spreading them in a single layer so each piece has a chance to have lots of contact with the hot air of the oven and get tender and brown.
- Preheat an oven to 400°F (I need to note that anywhere in the 350°F to 425°F range will work, so if you already have something in the oven, there's no need to wait before popping the broccoli rabe in).
- Trim the broccoli rabe and spread it on a baking sheet or in a roasting pan. Drizzle the greens with the olive oil. Use your hands or two spoons to turn and toss the broccoli rabe around so it is all more or less lightly coated with the oil. Spread the broccoli back out into as much of a single layer as possible and sprinkle it with salt.
- Roast the broccoli rabe until it's reduced in size by about two-thirds and is brown on the edges, about 20 minutes. Depending on your oven (and what else may be in it), this may take longer. Feel free to use tongs to toss and turn the leaves around a bit every 10 minutes or so if you're inclined. Serve roasted broccoli rabe hot or warm.
Optional Garnishes: I find a spritz of fresh lemon juice and some chili pepper flakes are a nice addition, but others may prefer some fresh herbs or a dollop of creamy yogurt or crème fraîche. Gratings or shavings of Parmesan cheese are a classic topper, and the salty bite it adds is a great counter-point to the harsher side of broccoli rabe's nature.
Serving Broccoli Rabe: Roasted broccoli rabe is a lovely side dish on its own, but it also brings a vibrant, bitter bite to platters of roasted vegetables. Bitter not your bag? I understand, it's not for everyone, and thus neither is broccoli rabe, but for those of us who love it, its intense flavor is definitely part of its appeal.