Italian Sweet and Sour Broccoli Rabe
Could an Italian sauce that balances sweet with sour tame a headstrong green? Blanching the broccoli rabe before sautéing softens it.
Why This Recipe Works
To guarantee that all the components of our Italian Sweet and Sour Broccoli Rabe cooked properly, we chopped the rabe into small pieces before cooking. Blanching—quickly cooking in salted boiling water—the broccoli rabe before sautéing simultaneously softened its crunch and tamed its mustardy bite.
In southern Italy, broccoli rabe is often flavored with a sauce made by simmering vinegar with sugar and sometimes aromatics until the mixture is syrupy. For our version of Italian Sweet and Sour Broccoli Rabe, we reached for red wine vinegar, as balsamic became unpleasantly heavy when reduced. Most recipes called for white sugar, but brown sugar added warmth along with sweetness. The sauce still needed more complexity, so we added raisins and orange juice to round things out. When the mixture became syrupy, we tossed in the blanched rabe.