Broccoli Rabe with Oranges and Sweet and Spicy Dressing

Try this seasonal salad while it’s still available. Slightly nutty and bitter broccoli rabe pairs beautifully with oranges and sweet and spicy dressing.broccoli rabe with blood orange pieces and spicy dressing

Is it spring yet? It certainly feels like it here in the Bay Area. But the spring would mean the end of Cara Cara and blood oranges as they are available for only a few winter months. And they are my favorites! I’m always mesmerized by the beauty of Nature: the vibrant colors, the shapes, textures and how they all come together is truly remarkable. Blood oranges are a wonderful combination of color, texture, taste and aroma.

I found this recipe going through some of my old Williams-Sonoma cookbooks (I think I have about 14 of them!). This recipe combines the flavors and textures of broccoli rabe and oranges unified by the sweet and spicy dressing.blood orange and broccoli rabe

Broccoli rabe originated from the Mediterranean region. It is a common ingredient in cuisines of Italy and Spain. Broccoli rabe is called rapini, broccoletti or broccoli di rape in different parts of Italy. It is a cruciferous vegetable, just like cabbage, kale, cauliflower or bok choy. Despite the name, it is not related to broccoli but to the green tops of turnip. Broccoli rabe has a rather nutty and slightly bitter taste. It is often paired with garlic or red pepper flakes. I modified the dressing a bit by adding a touch of honey. Because everything is better with a touch of honey! Right, Pooh?

To make this dressing start by preparing a flavored olive oil. Thinly slice red onion and place it on a small skillet together with olive oil and red pepper flakes. Cook it for about 8 minutes until the onion becomes translucent. Set aside.

sliced red onion cooked with red pepper flakes in olive oil

After it cooled down, pour the mixture through a fine strainer and discard the onion and red pepper flakes. Set aside.making an infused oil

In the meantime bring a large pot of water to boil. Wash and trim the ends of broccoli rabe, then halve each piece. Generously salt the water and add the greens to the boiling water. Blanch for 1 minute then drain and immediately transfer the greens into a bowl of ice cold water to stop the cooking and preserve the vibrant green color. Drain well after a minute or so.

To prepare the oranges, cut the top and bottom off. Going along the curve, cut off the peel and white pith. Turn the orange on its side and cut the segments out leaving the membranes attached to the center. For pictures go here. Cut each segment into 3-4 pieces.

To finish up the dressing, squeeze the juice out of the leftover core of the orange and add it to the olive oil.squeezing the juice into olive oil

Next, add red wine vinegar, salt and honey. Whisk together well. Adjust the taste.

spicy red onion, red pepper flakes dressing

Place the drained greens and orange pieces on a platter. Pour the dressing and gently combine. Serve at once!

a salad of oranges and blanched broccoli rabe

Serves: 2-4        Prep time: 25 minutes            Ready in: 25 minutes


  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 large bunch of broccoli rabe (about 1 lb), washed, trimmed and each stalk halved
  • 2 oranges
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (or more)
  • 2 teaspoons honey


  1. Place the onion slices, red pepper flakes and olive oil in a small skillet. Cook on a low heat until the onion slices become translucent, about 6-8 minutes. Set aside to cool it down.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Prepare a bowl of ice water and set it aside. Add the broccoli rabe to the boiling water and blanch for about 1 minute. Drain and immediately transfer the greens into the ice bath. Let it cool there for 1 minute and drain again. Set aside.
  3. Pour the cooled olive oil through a strainer. Discard the onion slices and pepper flakes.
  4. Prepare the oranges: cut off the top and bottom. Remove the peel and pith. Cut the orange segments out of the membranes. Cut each slice into 3-4 pieces.
  5. To finish the dressing: squeeze out any juice that’s left in the “core” and add it into the olive oil. Whisk in the red wine vinegar, honey and salt. Adjust to taste.
  6. Arrange the drained broccoli rabe and orange pieces on a platter. Pour in the dressing and gently stir. Serve at once.



Recipe slightly adapted from Williams-Sonoma “Italian” cookbook.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: