Broccoli Rabe with Pasta and Sun Dried Tomatoes

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Broccoli rabe, blanched then sautéed in olive oil with garlic and chili pepper flakes. Tossed with sun dried tomatoes, pasta, and Parmesan.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Have you ever had broccoli rabe (pronounced “rahb” or “rah-bee” depending on where you are from)?

I have sort of a love hate relationship with it. It looks like broccoli, but it doesn’t taste like it.

Broccoli rabe can sometimes be so bitter, even with blanching, there’s no amount of vinegar or bacon that can save it.

But bitterness heightens flavors (hence the purpose of parsley). Your tongue can distinguish 4 basic tastes—sour, bitter, sweet, and salty—so if you combine the somewhat bitter rabe with strong tastes from the other groups, the result can be like happy fireworks in your mouth.

Broccoli Rabe

Rabe combined with sun-dried tomatoes is a deli classic, the tomatoes offering a sweet intense counter-note to the rabe. Still, it’s not for everyone, so be warned.

This recipe tosses lightly sautéed broccoli rabe with sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, Parmesan cheese and penne pasta. So good! We devoured it.

Broccoli Rabe with Pasta and Sun Dried Tomatoes Recipe

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  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4 as a side dish

Feel free to toss in a few salty black olives, toasted pine nuts or walnuts, and or a dash of lemon juice.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound (a large bunch) broccoli rabe, rinsed, cut into 1 1/2 to 2 inch pieces
  • Salt
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (depending on how spicy you like things)
  • 1 large clove garlic, chopped (about 1 to 2 teaspoons chopped)
  • 2 ounces sun dried tomatoes (packed in oil), roughly chopped
  • 8 ounces penne pasta (or other favorite short pasta)
  • 1/2 ounce freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • More salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Method

1 Blanch the broccoli rabe: Bring two large pots (4-quart pots filled at least half-way) of water to a boil, one pot for blanching the broccoli rabe, the other for the pasta.

Whichever pot comes to a boil first, into it place the broccoli rabe. Blanch only for one minute, then use a slotted spoon to remove the rabe from the hot water to a large bowl of ice water to stop the cooking.

Drain the rabe and pat dry with paper towels.

2 Cook the pasta: Typically penne pasta takes about 10 minutes to cook to al dente. So start the pasta before you start sautéing the rabe.

When the water comes to a rolling boil, add a tablespoon of salt to it, let the salt dissolve, then add the pasta.

Once the water returns to a boil, start the timer. Let the pasta cook, at a rolling boil, uncovered, for whatever time is necessary to cook it to al dente, cooked through but still a little firm.

3 Sauté the blanched broccoli rabe with garlic and chili flakes: Once the pasta is in the water, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large sauté pan on medium to medium high heat.

Add the chopped garlic and the red chile flakes. Cook until the garlic just begins to brown at the edges.

Then add to the pan the blanched broccoli rabe. Toss to coat with the olive oil, chile flakes, and garlic. Sprinkle with salt.

4 Add sun dried tomatoes, pasta, and Parmesan: Cook the broccoli rabe about 5 minutes, until just tender. Stir in the chopped sun dried tomatoes.

When the pasta is done, drain it and add it to the rabe.

Sprinkle everything with black pepper and the grated Parmesan cheese. Toss to combine.

Serve immediately.

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Broccoli Rabe with Pasta and Sun-dried Tomatoes

Showing 4 of 19 Comments

  • pam

    i can’t find broccoli rabe & used broccolette (broccolini) in stead. wow, this is a keeper. (this is from someone who usually hates dark green leafy green) :-)
    (i used gluten free penne)

  • Craig

    I agree this dish couldn’t be more perfect with the combination of the bitter bite of broccoli rabe, chewy sweet sun dried tomatoes, spicy red pepper flakes and salty grated Parmesan. To cut down on prep time, I also have substituted the broccoli rabe with bagged, pre-washed and cut kale, which give a similar bite to the dish but allows you to skip the step of blanching.

  • Smith & Ratliff

    I love broccoli rabe. The more bitter, the better. Last night, I had a sliced baguette topped with blanced broccoli rabe, chopped, fresh ricotta and just a sprinkle of sea salt. Heaven. -LR

  • Patricia

    This looks like a great idea! My husband LOVES broccoli rabe, but we usually have it as a side. I am always looking for ways to incorporate more vegetarian meals into our diet – this looks perfect. I have also used broccoli rabe and sausage in homemade calzones – nice contrast of flavors, especially with the creamy riccotta.
    Thanks for another great idea!!

  • Christina Bjorndahl

    Looks delicious!

    Here’s a fantastic use for rapini: Cook rapini in salted boiling water, and drain well. Then use as in a sandwich with toasted rye bread and brie cheese. It’s unbelievably good…

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Broccoli Rabe with Pasta and Sun-dried TomatoesBroccoli Rabe with Pasta and Sun Dried Tomatoes