Garlic & Lemon Broccoli Rabe with Bacon Lardons

It’s been raining for what seems like forever in New York, but in reality, I think it’s only been pouring since Sunday. All I know is that my horrible knees start to act up after more than a day of constant rain and humidity – I inherited this lovely trait from my mother and grandmother, so thanks, guys! Rowing in high school probably didn’t help my knee situation, but what can you do? Sometimes I feel like an old woman, and I have recently started having to wear a knee brace when I do exercise. I don’t remember my knees being so bad when I lived in Phoenix, but I guess when you walk absolutely everywhere you go, things are bound to be exasperated. Kramer seems to have fine knees, which he insists on rubbing in my face as he practically races down the subway steps with me lagging behind (although he always realizes that he’s going too fast, turns around, and patiently waits for me to catch up – what a gentleman).

So, on to broccoli rabe. Am I the only one who thinks of Andy Bernard and his a cappella group, “Here Comes Treble,” from The Office when you hear “broccoli rabe” (Andy’s group had a member called “Broccoli Rob” for you people out there who have lives and don’t spend your evenings in front of the television). No? Just me. Alright, then. Broccoli rabe is also known as rapini, and it is delicious. It’s got a bold, bitter flavor that contrasts well with crisp, salty bacon, fragrant garlic, and bright lemon. It’s a dish that even Kramer enjoyed eating (the bacon didn’t hurt, obviously). You can even make this a vegetarian dish by simply omitting the bacon and sauteing the broccoli in olive oil instead of bacon fat. It’s a great side dish to be serving along with roasted chicken for an easy Sunday meal, or at a picnic or barbecue, as it’s as tasty room temperature as it is piping hot. Take it from me; I was eating it all day, long after it had cooled, while I cooked the rest of our meal and photographed. There’s something addicting about this flavor combination, and if there’s something you should be addicted to, it’s broccoli!

Garlic & Lemon Broccoli Rabe with Bacon Lardons
Your ingredients.

Garlic & Lemon Broccoli Rabe with Bacon Lardons
First, blanch the broccoli in boiling water for 2-3 minutes, until it turns a bright green.

Garlic & Lemon Broccoli Rabe with Bacon Lardons Garlic & Lemon Broccoli Rabe with Bacon Lardons

Then place the broccoli in an ice bath, so it stops cooking, and drain as much water from it as possible.

Garlic & Lemon Broccoli Rabe with Bacon Lardons
In a large pan, cook the bacon over medium-high heat, until crisp, then remove and drain on paper towels.

Garlic & Lemon Broccoli Rabe with Bacon Lardons
Drain all but 1-2 tablespoons of bacon fat from the pan (and reserve that bacon fat, because, you know…it’s delicious bacon fat), then in the broccoli, saute for a few minutes, then add in the garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice and cooked bacon. Taste, and add salt and pepper.

Garlic & Lemon Broccoli Rabe with Bacon Lardons
Enjoy warm or at room temperature.

Garlic & Lemon Broccoli Rabe with Bacon Lardons

Garlic & Lemon Broccoli Rabe with Bacon Lardons
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 3-4
  • 1 bunch broccoli rabe
  • 4-5 slices thick cut bacon (to make this dish vegetarian, simply omit the bacon and use 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • zest of ¼ lemon
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  1. First, bring a pot of water to a boil and add int he broccoli rabe. Let the broccoli blanch for 2-3 minutes, then remove and rinse with very cold water, to stop the cooking process, then drain all of the water from the broccoli and pat dry.
  2. In a large pan, cook your bacon over medium-high heat, for 6-8 minutes or so, until crispy. Remove with a slotted spatula onto a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Remove all but 1-2 tablespoons of bacon fat from the pan (and reserve the rest for later - I like to keep excess bacon fat in the fridge to use later for extra crispy home fries) and add in the broccoli rabe (alternatively, you can just use olive oil in place of the bacon/bacon fat). Cook for 5 minutes over medium heat, then add in the garlic, lemon juice, lemon zest, and a pinch of red pepper flakes, for another 2-3 minutes, until the garlic is fragrant and the broccoli is tender. Taste, and add salt and pepper as desired. Serve warm or at room temperature, making this perfect for a barbecue or picnic.

8 Responses

  1. Mom says:

    Catching up on your blog after a long couple of days. I have to say after our long adventure away my knee has been very cooperative , not an ache at all. My mouth did water after seeing you beautiful broccoli rabe, I have had way to much bread, wine and foie gras. I desperately need a huge plate of this beautiful green veggie.

  2. liz says:

    it might be because I had a large dairy queen blizzard earlier tonight, but the green freshness of this recipe is calling. my. name. right now. Love the simplicity of the ingredients.

  3. Jen says:

    We’ve had two days of sun now after rain almost every day for 3 weeks. At work our first reaction was, “What’s that bright object in the sky?! *hiss*”

    Did you use thick cut packaged bacon or did you get the stuff from a deli that is like 1/4 – 1/2 inch thick?

    Aaaand because I’m nosy and Miss Fitness, are you doing any exercises specifically to strengthen your knees? My mom had troublesome knees, but lots of squats, lunges, and stretching seems to alleviated it. Either way, good luck 😀

  4. The phrase “bacon lardons” puts me in a very, very happy place. If that makes me happy, just imagine how I’d feel devouring this!

  5. Rhonda says:

    That stinks about your knees, I hope the pain eases up a little for you! I have never had broccoli rabe but see it in a million recipes, it looks great.

  6. I blog quite often and I truly appreciate your information. This great article has truly peaked my interest. I’m going to bookmark your site and keep checking for new information about once per week. I opted in for your Feed as well.

  7. […] is still moist and flavorful. I served this up with some of my wild ramp pesto and a side of broccoli rabe, but as ramps aren’t quite in season anymore, a classic pesto would be just as good. This […]

  8. […] looking for a St. Patrick’s Day recipe, look no further than this Garlic & Lemon Broccoli Rabe with Bacon Lardons recipe from The Crepes of Wrath. It’s healthy, zesty, and even better, fits the green […]

Leave a Reply

©2022 The Crepes of Wrath