Brown Butter Broccoli Rabe with Macadamia Nuts

Save that butter wrapper!

One of my first lessons in kitchen frugality was watching my mother unwrap her stick of butter for the butter dish, setting the wrapper aside. Once the green beans were cooked and drained, she placed them in the serving dish and topped them with the butter wrapper, to act as a cover to keep them warm and to extract as much of that remaining butter as possible. I was always amazed at how much butter flavor was still lingering in the creases of that little wrapper! This came from her being a little child in the Great Depression and growing up with every possible trick to save a dime or a bit of flavor. I bet your mother or grandmother had little tricks like this.

A little flavor goes a long ways

      I think of this when I consider a recipe. Brown butter adds so much flavor to both savory and sweet dishes, but how much do we really need? Some recipes call for a lot.

      So taking a page from my mom’s experience, I experimented with a favorite vegetable, broccoli rabe. We didn’t have this growing up because there were two vegetables only that my mother did not favor – asparagus and broccoli. I suspect she wouldn’t touch broccoli rabe or broccolini just because of its family association!

Good for you too!

      But she should have, because it is loaded with great nutrition and flavor. Broccoli rabe can be used in any recipe you might use broccoli or broccolini. More bitter than broccoli, its stems are more tender, they don’t need to be peeled, but the flower head is considerably smaller. The leaves as well as the stalk, head, and flowers are all edible and delicious. Like other brassicas, this little vegetable is packed with nutrition, and is becoming more widely available. One serving contains only about 35 calories, 6 grams of carbs, 5 grams of fiber, 3.5 grams of protein, and is packed with phytonutrients, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals including calcium, iron, and potassium. It contains anti-inflammatory compounds and in linked to preventing cancer and heart disease and help control blood pressure. It’s a hard worker.

Just a bit of saturated fat

      A little butter goes a long way, as my mother demonstrated, and a little browned butter even more so. After steaming the rabe, I gave it a quick sauté in brown butter mixed with fruity olive oil. The butter was definitely the dominant flavor, but offered only a modest amount of saturated fat to each serving, certainly within the heart-healthy guidelines.

There’s always a substitute, usually

Of course, if you don’t have any broccoli rabe, you can use broccolini or broccoli florets, it’s all good. As for nuts, any you love will do here, don’t make a special trip.

So much going for it

This is simple, fast, and very tasty. Serve it on a weeknight, or add to a meal with guests at the table. You can use this to top some pasta or rice and call it a meal.

In a time pinch, you can just steam the broccolini, place it in a serving dish, and top with a butter wrapper. Mom would be proud.

Brown Butter Broccoli Rabe with Macadamia Nuts

  • 1 bunch broccoli rabe, reserve any flowers for garnish
  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. butter or vegan substitute
  • ½ tsp. smoked Spanish paprika
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • ¼ cup chopped macadamia nuts

      Chop off any brown stem ends of the rabe, then steam it just until tender. This will take about 7 to 8 minutes, but check. I do not blanch my broccoli rabe to remove bitterness because that is what I buy it for! The bit of honey I’ve added helps to balance it out.

      While the broccoli rabe is steaming, heat the butter in a small saute pan and swirl until just starting to brown. Add the oil, paprika, honey, and nuts and continue swirling for a few minutes or so, until everything is fragrant and the nuts starting to brown.

      Drain and plate and pour the nut mixture over evenly. Sprinkle with flaked or sea salt.

You can also substitute broccolini in this recipe. It is sweeter than both broccoli rabe or broccoli and more tender. It doesn’t have as many leaves as broccoli rabe, but every bit is edible too.

And just for silly fun, and thinking of broccolini, I was challenge by Nancy at The Elephant’s Trunk to write a food inspired reverse poem as outlined on The Pioneer Poem. The first words rather than the last rhyme, and the lines are limited to five syllables. Additionally, the first two lines must be repeated at the last, but reversed. Here’s my little attempt:

Stone Soup

Peas green and fresh

Please the inner chef

Stone, nice and round

Bone with bits of meat

How about onion?

Now a little sage

Toss in potato

Sauce with dabs of heat 

Carrot orange zest

Merit our applause

Beet? A sure delight

Sweet to tempt us more

Raddish, candy striped

Faddish, pink and bright

Broccolini? Yes

Teeny weeny fun

Beans a steady friend

Means we’ll have long life

Corn, the last this year 

Horn of plenty star

Red peppers, so sweet

Bread to top it off

Please the inner chef

Peas green and fresh

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55 Comments Add yours

  1. The addition of honey sounds wonderful!

    1. Thank you. Just a bit balances the bitter!

    2. Julia says:

      My Great Aunt Hazel would carefully scrap every bit of butter from the wrapper when she made cookies. When I asked my mother why, she said Aunt Hazel live during the Great Depression and learned to use everything.

      1. They sure did! Every scrap of butter, bit of bacon grease, morsel of bread.

  2. Thanks for sharing this amazing recipe. Anita

    1. You’re very welcome Anita! We really loved these flavors.

  3. I very sadly can no longer have butter (on sandwiches at least) because it is never soft enough that I can manage to spread it. I’m gradually going through all of the blends until I find one I like.

    1. Good luck on that, but in the meantime, melted butter doesn’t need to be spread!

  4. Chef Mimi says:

    That is one lovely basket of produce! and I love what you did here – especially the macadamias!

    1. Thank you Mimi! I had the nuts in a jar the refrigerator and they were calling my name!

  5. Anonymous says:

    You’ve managed to write such fun poem, with all these restricting rules! Well done!

    I couldn’t agree more re broccoli rabe – the bitterness is the best part of it! Love the idea of adding o much flavor with this small amount of fat/oil. 🙂

    1. Again I’ve been reduced to “anonymous”, but this time it was my fault, as I skipped logging into WP prior to posting. 🙂

      1. That will do it!

    2. I’m the “anonymous”… 🙂

    3. Thanks! It really didn’t take much to bring out the flavor!

  6. Broccoli rabe and macadamia nuts are an interesting combination I need to check out!

  7. Kevin says:

    Love the pairing of broccoli and nuts. Also very impressed you found a rhyme for broccolini!

    1. Why thanks Kevin!
      I have a couple for ratatouille too!

  8. Eha says:

    Love everything which has ‘broccoli’ in its name – but think is made more inviting by the honey, paprika and my native macadamias in it !!! Looks delightful . . .

    1. I’m with you, and thank you so much for giving the world these delightful nuts!

  9. brwbmm says:

    Nice recipe! I like all the broccolis including chinese broccoli. And if you’re in an asian grocery, look for snow pea tips, a real treat.

    1. Yum! I’ll have to visit my market soon.

  10. Nancy says:

    I love Broccoli Rabe and will make it this way next time! Adding honey sounds delightful!

    1. Thanks Nancy! You still get the bitter, but sweet as well. It’s all about balance!

  11. A delicious recipe and a poem. 👏👏 Color me impressed. 🙂

    1. Thanks Judy, we need more color!

  12. My mother-in-law did the same; it’s a generation thing but shows how wasteful we have become.
    This recipe is killer, D! I love macadamias … a nice touch against the bitterness of the broccoli rabe.

    1. Thanks N. They had so many little tricks to make sure everything was used up and not wasted.

      1. Yep. The Depression Mentality!

  13. I bet your seasoning additions adds lots of flavor to this broccoli rabe,

    1. Thanks Jovina! It was really tasty, and the crunch of the nuts quite welcome.

  14. Suzassippi says:

    We just never know what you are going to do next! Love the poem.

    1. Thanks Suz! Like to mix things up a bit!

  15. You had me at macadamia nuts! Cute poem

    1. Thanks Jenna! It was a fun challenge.

  16. Christy B says:

    The butter wrapper — Genius! Big broccoli fan here!

  17. nancyc says:

    This sounds like a wonderful side dish, and I love the butter-wrapper tip! 🙂

    1. Thanks Nancy! The butter wrapper is a timeless trick, mom would be proud if she saw me using it!

  18. Forestwood says:

    I am a fan of your Mums and save my butter wrapper too. However, I use it to grease the quiche dish or oven tray – there is often a lot of butter left on it. I am keen to try your Mum’s suggestion too! A great idea. Thanks, Dorothy’s Mum.

    1. Thank you from my mum! She, too, used the wrapper to grease cake pans, such a perfect little idea!

      1. Forestwood says:

        Great minds….

  19. Yum, yum, and yum again. As far as I’m concerned brown butter enhances anything it touches, from vegetables to pasta. Neat trick with the butter wrapper. I have never thought of that.

    1. Thank Laurie! The old gals in the kitchen thought of every way to save a penny!

  20. terrie gura says:

    I love your poem! Never have had broccoli rabe…can you believe it?! I do like broccolini though, and I don’t mind the bitter flavors, so I’ll keep looking for it here. Your mom was onto something good with the butter wrapper, too! Smart woman, just like the ones she raised. 😁

    1. Ah, thanks my friend! I always loved the butter wrapper trick!
      Happy hunting!!

  21. You are brilliant Dorothy! I don’t like most nuts that are put in food like pecans, almonds, walnuts etc. but I absolutely LOVE macadamia nuts!!!! You are so inspiring lady!

    1. Ah, thank you! We all inspire each other!

  22. NativeNM says:

    What an easy side dish, love the macadamia nut addition.

    1. Thanks Jan! The nuts really give this little dish some texture and character.

  23. GP says:

    Rabe is my favorite veggie as well. This is unique way to do it!!

    1. Thank you! Love the bitter and the deep flavor.

  24. I’ve never seen broccoli rabe but I think I’ll like it 😆 thanks for the tip regarding the butter wrapper 😉 And what a great poem 😉

    1. Thanks! It was a fun cook, and a fun exercise!

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