Also known as “rapini,” broccoli rabe (pronounced “rob”) has a lot in common with—you guessed it—broccoli! While the two veggies don’t look exactly alike (broccoli rabe is much leafier), their nutritional profiles are similar. One cup of raw chopped broccoli rabe is excellent source of vitamins A and K, and a good source of vitamin C. And, when you cook this leafy green, its nutrition profile gets even better. This veggie is seriously nutritious!
Broccoli rabe matures very quickly from seed, ready for harvest about 50 days after planting and is easy to grow. It grows best in cool weather (warm weather can result in a very bitter vegetable), so we plant it in early spring for a late spring harvest and again in late August for an early fall harvest. The plants can grow to be almost 2 feet tall!
You can use all parts of broccoli rabe in cooking. The leaves have a similar taste to mustard greens, and the thin florets are similar to broccoli florets. Trim the stems a bit to get rid of the fibrous ends, but you can eat those too! My favorite way to eat broccoli rabe is to simply chop and saute it with some garlic and olive oil and eat it just like that or tossed into a whole wheat pasta dish with shaved Parmesan cheese – YUM!. It helps to quickly blanch it first in boiling water, for just a few minutes, to soften up the stems and leaves. This eliminates some of the bitterness of the vegetable and also helps it cook faster and more evenly if you’re planning to sauté. Garlic, red pepper flakes and Parmesan cheese are great flavor enhancers for this deeply delicious and nutritious leafy green veggie. Try it on pizza too!
How do you like to cook broccoli rabe?