Available year-round from California
Broccoli Rabe was first brought to the U.S. by Italian farmers in the 1920’s, also known as Rapini, Broccoli Raab and Brassica Rapa. With its origin in the Mediterranean and China, it is obviously most popular in Italian and Asian communities.
It is similar in looks to broccoli with its little broccoli type buds called florets but is not actually a broccoli. Some experts in the field disagree and claim that it is a wild cousin of broccoli. Others say it is more closely related to turnips than broccoli. The saw blade edged leaves resemble turnip greens and carry a similar peppery flavor. While these so-called experts hash it out we can enjoy its culinary credentials.
The entire bunch of Broccoli Rabe is edible; the broccoli type buds in between the mustard like leaves and the tender stalks all are used when cooking. The flavor is described as pungent, nutty, peppery and bold.
Broccoli Rabe can be used in pasta as a side to chicken, pork or salmon, chopped up and cooked with Italian sausage, stir fried, in soups, Sautéed with garlic and parmesan cheese. It is best to steam Broccoli Rabe for three to five minutes before sautéing. Another method is to place Broccoli Rabe in a metal colander and pour a pot of boiling water over it to scald it, let it drain and then sauté it. This helps remove bitterness and softens it enough to work with.
When selecting Broccoli Rabe in the store, look for deep dark leaves and buds, it wilts, and yellows quickly so produce departments must be on their toes to keep it fresh. Avoid yellowing, wilted leaves and any slime around the band.
At home separate the bunch and wash in cold water. Store Broccoli Rabe in a plastic bag or moist paper towel in the refrigerator for no more than three days.
Broccoli Rabe is rich in calcium, potassium, iron, vitamin A, and vitamin C, the perfect green for a balanced diet. Broccoli Rabe is available year-round but is best in cooler months. So, add some Broccoli Rabe to your shopping list and add some spice to your next cooking creation.