Before you even begin to put together your salad, it’s important to ensure that your broccoli rabe is at the top of its game. To select the best, look for specimens with tight, dark-green florets and crisp leaves. Additionally, we’ve found that small, firm stems are also a good sign of quality.
Once your broccoli rabe makes it into your kitchen, loosely cover and place it in the crisper section of your fridge. If your broccoli rabe is fresh, it should last about 5 days before spoiling. When you’re ready to use it, remove the stems and trim off any thick skin; these tend to bring an unpleasant woodiness to the table.
Consider a Partner
While there’s no one stopping you from crafting a broccoli-rabe exclusive salad, the bitter green generally tends to fair better if it’s partnered with another leafy green. For best results, we like to cook our broccoli rabe (either by roasting or blanching) and pair it with massaged kale. To see this in action, check out our broccoli rabe and kale harvest salad or our roasted squash salad with broccoli rabe and kale.
If you want to go it alone with broccoli rabe, it’s extremely important to massage it beforehand. To do this, remove the leaves and discard the stems, then wash and spin dry the leaves. From here, add your dressing (we’d recommend some form of citrus vinaigrette) and thoroughly massage it into the leaves. If done correctly, your broccoli rabe should halve in size. This process is crucial for two reasons: first off, it eliminates most of broccoli rabe’s natural bitterness and secondly, it ensures a consistent texture throughout the bowl.
…Or Get Cooking
Alternatively, cooking your broccoli rabe is a great way to make it more palatable in salads. Historically, broccoli rabe was cooked throughout Italy and Spain to spotlight its sweet nuttiness. While you can use a variety of cooking methods to achieve this, we’d recommend broiling because it’s quick, simple, and keeps the leaves nice and crispy.
Top It Off
Toppings can make or break a salad. Luckily, broccoli rabe salads are pretty flexible in this department. Classic additions like garlic, citrus and Italian cheeses easily slide onto the plate, but don’t be afraid to get creative; chickpeas, sweet potatoes, and even poached eggs can all offer an unexpected twist.
- Pro Tip: Take some inspiration from kale entree salads with these toppings!