I know, loving bacon is such a fad. How could I be more basic? But hey, the majority of the world agrees that bacon is amazing, so just lean into it.
And while you are leaning, lean into loving my bacon broccoli rabe recipe. I promise that even if you don’t like vegetables, you will like this. The salty from the bacon, the sweet from the carmelized onions, and the cheesiness from the…cheese, absolutely transforms this side dish from being ho-hum veggies, to practically a dessert.
Don’t believe me? Try it out. My kids wince at the mention of vegetables, but they tried the broccoli when they saw the bacon–and they loved it.
So what is broccoli rabe? You have probably heard of broccoli, and maybe you’ve even heard of broccolini, but a lot of people have never heard of the vegetable broccoli rabe (pronounced ROB).
Broccoli rabe is actually not broccoli, though it does have the florets common to broccoli. It is related to a turnip and can be quite bitter if you don’t cook it in salted water before sauteeing it. It’s not something you would ever want to attempt eating raw, like you can typical broccoli because of the bitterness. The bitter taste isn’t all bad in small amounts. When it is in a dish with a lot of flavor, like the one below, the slight bitter taste adds interest and another dimension to the dish.
This vegetable, as any dark green vegetable, is packed with nutrition. A full serving of broccoli rabe has over the daily recommendation for vitamin k and is a great source of calcium, so you are giving your bones a little pick me up. It is a great source of fiber, lutein for your eyes, and protein. You really can’t go wrong with this vegetable.
So without further ado, here’s how you make the darn thing:
Bacon Broccoli Rabe
- 8 oz Broccoli Rabe about 8-10 thick stalks
- 2 strips of bacon
- ½ onion sliced into strips
- 1 tablespoon parmesan
- Pepper to taste
- Wash broccoli rabe florets and cut of bottom of the stalks, about ½ inch up.
- Bring a quart of salted water to a boil. Add broccoli rabe and return to boil. Cook for 3-4 minutes. Remove to a colander and rinse with cold water.
- In a pan, cook bacon until crispy on both sides. Reserve 1 tablespoon bacon grease in pan and set aside strips on a paper towel to remove excess grease. Crumble into bits.
- In pan with tablespoon of grease, add onions and cook until caramelized, or until light brown and limp.
- Add broccoli rabe to pan with onions and heat through. Remove to a serving dish.
- Top with crumbled bacon, pepper, and parmesan cheese.
1. Prepare Broccoli Rabe
Wash, remove wilted leaves, and cut the ends off the stalks of the broccoli rabe. Cutting the ends gets rid of the excess dirt and silt that the vegetable has been sitting in.
Also, you can tell how fresh the produce is by how green and crisp the ends are. If the bottoms of the stalks, before cutting them, are yellow, then they are a tad bit old. If they are green they are much fresher, which gives them a much better taste.
2. Boil And Rinse
Bring a quart of salted water to a boil. Add broccoli rabe and return to boil.
Cook for 3-4 minutes, or until your fork can go into the stalk but with a little resistance. You want your broccoli rabe to have a slight crunch in it, so don’t over cook the vegetable so that it’s too soft. And remember, you are still going to saute it.
Remove to a colander and rinse with cold water. This stops the broccoli rabe from continuing to cook while you are preparing the rest of the food.
3. Cook Bacon
You only need two strips of bacon for this dish. I like to cut my raw strips in half so I can fit them on the pan easier for a more even cook.
Everyone has different opinions for how crispy they like their bacon. I personally like to make sure it isn’t still oinking. Having a nice crispy strip also allows you to be able to crumble it more easily.
Once you have cooked the bacon on both sides to desired crispiness, transfer the strips onto a paper towel to get rid of the excess grease.
Drain the grease except for about a tablespoon, and leave it in the pan.
4. Caramelize Onions
In the pan with tablespoon of grease, add onions and cook until caramelized, or until light brown and limp.
There is basically nothing better than caramelized onions, but when it’s caramelized in bacon grease, the joy could knock you off your feet.
The key is making sure that you don’t just brown them, but you continue to cook them until they have no body left, and are limp as worms. That’s when you know they are ready.
5. Saute Broccoli Rabe
Add broccoli rabe to pan with onions and heat through. You want to saute them a little bit to get some color and flavor infused in them. This will take about a minute or two.
Remove to a serving dish.
Top with crumbled bacon, pepper, and parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.
This recipe really is very simple to make, but it is quite a statement side dish. I probably wouldn’t make this every night, because you just can’t have bacon all the time, but this is something I would definitely serve at a dinner party or when you have some friends over. It is simple, yet impressive, and broccoli rabe is just different enough from typical broccoli, that it will be an exciting thing for people to eat.
Bacon broccoli rabe would go great with a steak or grilled chicken, or really any meat dish. You could even use it as a full dinner over rice or pasta. It has plenty of flavor and wouldn’t require any additional seasoning.
What have you served alongside your broccoli rabe?