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Rapini with Raisins and Hazelnuts is a festive dish with vivacious flavors. Pleasantly bitter rapini (broccoli rabe) gets tossed around in a hot skillet with olive oil, fresh garlic, tangy-sweet raisins, and a fiery punch of crushed red pepper. It’s a dish that’s holiday table special, but easy enough for a weeknight.

Rapini (Broccoli Rabe) with Raisins and Hazelnuts served in a white bowl

The key step in this recipe, one that you may be tempted to skip, is to blanch the rapini before you add it to the skillet. It’s important! It partially cooks the rapini and mellows its natural bitterness so that it doesn’t overpower the other flavors.

Rapini (Broccoli Rabe) with Raisins and Hazelnuts served in a white bowl

Rapini FAQ

What is rapini?

Rapini (also called broccoli rabe, and less commonly broccoli raab) is a cruciferous vegetable with green stems, buds and leaves all of which are edible. Often associated with Mediterranean or Italian cuisine, rapini can be eaten cooked or raw and has a pleasant bitter flavor that is reduced by cooking.Bunch of rapini

How do you get the bitterness out of rapini?

Cooking rapini / broccoli rabe will reduce its bitter flavor. In this recipe, rapini is both blanched in boiling water and sautéed, two methods that work together to reduce any bitter taste.blanched broccoli rabe

How do you wash rapini?

To thoroughly wash rapini, submerge it in a large bowl of water. Swoosh it around to encourage all of the dirt and debris to fall to the bottom of the bowl. Lift the washed rapini out of the water and transfer to a colander to dry. (Pouring the water into the colander along with the rapini would be pouring all of that dirt you washed out right over it again!)

Are broccolini and rapini the same thing?

Though both broccolini and rapini (broccoli rabe) have visually similar green bud clusters (florets), they are not the same plant. They aren’t even related! Broccolini is a hybrid of gai lan (Chinese broccoli) and broccoli. Rapini is more closely related to the turnip.

Ingredients you need to make Rapini with Raisins and Hazelnuts

Rapini with Raisins and Hazelnuts Ingredients flat lay
  • Rapini / Broccoli Rabe: You’ll need 2 pounds of fresh, raw rapini. Look for fresh looking bunches with perky buds and greens. Avoid those that are wilted or discolored.
  • Olive Oil: Use a good, flavorful olive oil – it’s an important flavor component. (Because you’ll be cooking with it, you don’t necessarily need extra virgin olive oil.)
  • Fresh Garlic: Look for plump bulbs with smooth, dry skins intact. Avoid those with soft spots and those that have begun to sprout.
  • Golden Raisins: Look for plump, soft raisins. But don’t worry it they’re chewy, they’ll plump and soften as they cook.
  • Crushed Red Pepper Flakes: When crushed red pepper flakes are stored properly, i.e., away from moisture, they’ll last about 3 years. Replace sooner if they become discolored or dull.

Serve With

Rapini with Raisins and Hazelnuts makes an excellent side dish for almost any meaty main dish like Roasted Lamb Chops, Italian Chicken Cutlets, Pork Piccata, Pork Saltimbocca, Chicken Saltimbocca or fish and seafood mains like Parmesan Baked Cod, Salmon Piccata or Shrimp Piccata. Or alongside Dry Brine Turkey, Cornbread Dressing and Mashed Red Potatoes on your holiday table.

And if you love rapini, don’t miss this classic Broccoli Rabe and Sausage Pasta. Everyone loves it and it’s weeknight easy.

How to Make Rapini with Raisins and Hazelnuts

Step 1: Wash, coarsely chop and blanch rapini in salted water for 1 minute. Drain.

cutting and blanching rapini

Step 2: Heat oil in a large skillet; cook and stir garlic and crushed red pepper for 1-2 minutes.

cooking garlic and red pepper flakes in olive oil

Step 3: Add rapini and raisins; cook and stir until rapini is tender and raisins are plump, 4-5 minutes. Season to taste with kosher salt. Transfer to platter and top with hazelnuts. Serve.

adding raisins to rapini mixture
rapini with raisins and hazelnuts ready to serve

Rapini with Raisins and Hazelnuts

5 from 7 votes
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 8 minutes
Total: 23 minutes
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Calories: 219
Servings: 4 people
Don't skip the blanching step – it's worth the effort to ensure that the flavors in this dish are beautifully balanced.

Ingredients  

  • 2 pounds rapini broccoli rabe
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 large garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes or more
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins 40g
  • kosher salt to taste
  • 1 ounce toasted hazelnuts coarsely chopped

Instructions 

  • Wash rapini (see recipe note #1); drain and coarsely chop.
  • Heat a large pot of salted water to boil. Add rapini and cook 1 minute (working in batches if necessary); transfer rapini to colander to drain.
  • Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes; cook and stir until garlic is fragrant and golden, 1-2 minutes. Add rapini and raisins; cook and stir until raisins are plump and rapini is tender, 4-5 minutes. Season to taste with kosher salt and transfer to platter. Sprinkle with hazelnuts and serve.

Notes

  1. To wash rapini, submerge in a large bowl of water. Swoosh it around to dislodge all dirt and debris. Lift out rapini and transfer to a colander to drain.
  2. For a fresh take on this dish, feel free to swap in dried cherries or dried cranberries for the raisins and/or toasted pine nuts for the hazelnuts.

Nutrition

Calories: 219kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 79mg | Potassium: 572mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 5984IU | Vitamin C: 47mg | Calcium: 263mg | Iron: 5mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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18 Comments

  1. Valentina says:

    5 stars
    Raisins and rapini are so delicious together — love how the sweet balances the bitter. And that garlic cooking with the oil and crushed chili flakes is calling to me. This could be a whole meal! 🙂 ~Valentina

    1. Marissa Stevens says:

      Thank you, Valentina. Agreed about making a meal of it. In fact, we made lunch of the batch in the picture. 🙂

      1. Gloria Blocker says:

        L👀ks Delicious😋

        1. Marissa Stevens says:

          Thank you, Gloria. I promise it is!

  2. Mary Ann | The Beach House Kitchen says:

    5 stars
    Love the added sweetness of the raisins to balance things out Marissa. I’ll be trying this side very soon!

    1. Marissa Stevens says:

      Yay! I love to hear that, Mary Ann.

  3. Cheyanne @ No Spoon Necessary says:

    5 stars
    Oh this salad is just making me swoon – that vibrant green color is everything!! I love absolutely everything in this salad – so much flavor and texture!!! I’ve been trying to eat super healthy to balance out all the snacks, so this is going on my menu!! Cheers, friend!

    1. Marissa Stevens says:

      That’s wonderful, Chey! Thank you. I hope you love it.