There is a reason why people who love leafy green vegetables are sometimes hesitant about broccoli rabe: the bitterness. While some bunches can be worse than others, there is no way to tell how bad it will be until you start to eat it. Well, bitter be gone! I learned this incredibly simple hack from my friend Bob who has been in the restaurant industry for many years. Before you sauté the broccoli rabe in garlic and olive oil (and/or whatever else you normally do), give it a quick blanching in chicken stock.
I bring the stock to a boil, add in the greens, and let it simmer for about 3-4 minutes. You do not want to overdo it, because it will be cooking more later on. After straining, I like to rest it in the fridge for an hour or so to let it settle. Then into the pan it goes with garlic, olive oil, crushed red pepper, and just a pinch of salt—you won’t need too much because of the stock.
This simple trick saps away all the bitterness, adds necessary salt content, and also brings in more flavor. Some recipes will call for boiling in heavily salted water, but this works much better.