My biggest problem with Broccoli Rabe is SPELLING IT. No matter how many times I tell myself it's TWO C'S and ONE L, I always write b-r-o-c-o-l-l-i. I know it when I SEE it, as in pornography and the Supreme Court, but not when I WRITE it.
I don't really have an sense of how popular broccoli rabe is. I particularly like it because it's got a lot going on. You've got your stems, leaves AND flowers. It's kind of like a United Nations of vegetables. It's variously known as rapini, rape, brocoletti di rape and rabe OR raab.
One thing to remember is that it belongs to the Brassica family, i.e. the strong smelly vegetable family, which includes kale, cabbage and turnips. But don't turn up your nose. That problem is simply dealt with by blanching first (I usually do it for 3 minutes) and then sauteing. In fact, if you ever see a recipe that says to saute without blanching, be a rebel and don't listen.
Oh, and don't forget about Brocollini (I did it again!) it should be Broccolini. This is more like broccoli than broccoli rabe. In fact, it's MOSTLY broccoli with a bit of Chinese broccoli thrown in. Cook it the same way as broccoli rabe, but only blanch it for one minute. The two are completely interchangeable in recipes.
Here are 2 wonderful recipes from Giada and Ina. Giada's is for broccoli rabe, Ina's uses broccolini, use either or both.
Sauteed Broccoli Rabe (serves 2)
1 bunch broccoli rabe
2 tbls. extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, pressed or finely chopped
a small handful or raisins (white would be great)
a small handful of pine nuts*
a generous pinch of Kosher salt
Cut off 1/2 inch of the ends of the broccoli rabe. Slice leaves, stems - everything - in 2 inch pieces. Blanch in boiling (salted, if you wish) water. Drain.
Heat oil in large non stick frying pan over medium high heat. Throw in drained broccoli rabe (water will still be sticking to it). Saute for 1 minute. Add remaining ingredients. Saute for 2 or 3 more minutes until hot. Serve at once.
*I know I promised in an earlier post to only call them pignoli, like Ina does, but I'm used to pine nuts, so nuts to that idea...