Broccoli rabe is a type of what many people would call “greens”.
It’s an edible weed that grows in the wild and can also be grown as a crop.
The plant has long, slender, green leaves with small yellow flowers on them.
Broccoli rabe goes by other names like rapini and raab.
The taste of broccoli rabe varies depending on what you cook it with; some say it tastes similar to spinach or mustard greens when cooked with garlic, olive oil, and red pepper flakes.
What is Broccoli Rabe?
Broccoli rabe is a member of the Brassica family, along with cabbage and broccoli.
The leaves of the plant are dark green with small white flowers on top.
The leaves can be harvested at any point in their growth cycle to allow additional new shoots to grow, rather than stopping production after one harvest (like most other members of the broccoli family).
They are also known as rapini, Italian turnip, or broccoli raab.
Broccoli rabe has a slightly bitter taste, which is why it’s often cooked with other ingredients that will help to temper this.
It can be found fresh in most grocery stores or substituted for kale in many recipes where you might use either one.
It is also a staple ingredient in Italian cooking, often sauteed and served with pasta.
Don’t be discouraged by the slightly bitter taste; it’s a good source of vitamin C and fiber, as well as omega-three fatty acids.
It can also be found dried or frozen in some grocery stores for those who prefer to cook from scratch at home.
Nutritional Benefits of Broccoli Rabe
Broccoli Rabe is a green leafy vegetable, sometimes called rapini.
It’s rich in vitamins A and C, fiber, potassium, calcium, and iron.
The taste resembles broccoli but with more bitterness to it.
Broccoli rabe is the richest food source of sulforaphane among commonly eaten vegetables.
Sulforaphane is a chemical with potent anti-cancer properties.
The broccoli rabe plant has also been found to have high levels of glucoraphanin, which converts to sulforaphane after it’s eaten and goes through the gut.
- Vitamins A & C – These vitamins are both antioxidants that help to protect the cells from damage.
- Calcium – This mineral is important for maintaining healthy bones and teeth, regulating muscle function, blood clotting, heart rhythm, and hormone production.
- Potassium – Potassium helps regulate fluids in your body as well as nerve transmissions. It’s also necessary for balancing sodium levels in the system, which is important for healthy blood pressure.
- Iron – Iron is responsible for producing the hemoglobin in red blood cells that carries oxygen to your tissues and organs.
- Fiber – This nutrient helps lower cholesterol levels, regulate sugar metabolism, and reduce constipation or diarrhea by maintaining a balance of good bacteria in the digestive system. It can also help with weight loss by feeling fuller on fewer calories.
- Vitamin K – Vitamin K is important for blood clotting and a healthy immune system.
So, if you’re looking to boost your nutritional intake with a side dish, try broccoli rabe.
What Does Broccoli Rabe Taste Like? Does Broccoli Rabe Taste Good?
Broccoli rabe is a leafy green vegetable closely related to broccoli and cabbage.
The leaves of the plant are dark green with small white flowers on top.
Broccoli rabe tastes slightly bitter when raw but becomes milder when roasted.
The vegetable texture is slightly crunchy and can be enjoyed in salads or cooked like other leafy greens.
Broccoli rabe tastes similar to raw spinach but with a more mild flavor, so it’s often used as an ingredient for dishes containing garlic (making them spicier) and pine nuts (giving the dish a richer flavor).
Broccoli rabe can also be eaten raw.
Once cooked, the vegetable becomes a bit more soft and delicate.
Like other leafy greens like spinach or kale, it should be cooked for only a few minutes in boiling water not to become too chewy or mushy.
It’s best to sauté it with garlic and oil to bring out the flavor.
How to Cook Broccoli Rabe?
Broccoli rabe is best when it’s steamed or boiled.
The leaves should just be cooked for a few minutes in boiling water, drained, and served warm as an accompaniment to another dish.
To boil broccoli rabe:
- Place the washed and trimmed vegetable in a pot of salted water, cover with a lid and boil until tender.
- Drain and season with a little olive oil, salt, pepper, and lemon juice.
To steam broccoli rabe:
- Place the washed, and trimmed vegetable in a steamer basket over boiling water, or for an electric stove, use the metal plate that comes with your appliance.
- Cover tightly with a lid to trap the heat inside.
- Steam for about five minutes or until the leaves are tender.
To roast broccoli rabe:
- Add olive oil to a sauté pan and cook over medium heat until translucent, then add garlic cloves chopped finely with salt and pepper. Cook briefly.
- Stir in broccoli rabe on high heat for about one minute before removing from heat.
- Serve with a little more olive oil and lemon juice on top, if desired.
Broccoli rabe can also be eaten raw in salads or sandwiches and cooked like other leafy greens such as spinach or kale.
It should be sautéed to bring out the flavor before serving it warm.
It should be washed well before cooking, trimming off the stem, and discarding any yellowing leaves.
For best flavor, it is also important to wash just before using so that dirt or sand does not have time to dry on the surface of the vegetable.
How to Choose Broccoli Rabe?
When choosing broccoli rabe at a grocery store, look for freshness and vibrant color.
The leaves should not be wilted or yellowed, and the stalks should not have any brown spots or soft areas that may indicate decay along with a strong smell.
Also, look for dark green leaves and white flowers.
The smaller the flower clusters, the younger the broccoli rabe will be.
The leafy greens should have a strong smell that is not too sour or spicy with a slight peppery flavor.
If you notice an off-putting odor, don’t buy it because this may indicate spoilage of some sort.
Broccoli rabe should also be firm to the touch and not too limp or soft when you pick it up, indicating that it may have been sitting out for a while before purchase.
If you doubt how fresh broccoli rabe is at your grocery store, feel free to ask a produce worker for help.
How to Store Broccoli Rabe?
Broccoli rabe should be wrapped in paper towels and placed inside a plastic bag.
It is best to refrigerate it for up to three days.
The leaves are not as delicate or perishable as other leafy greens, so they can also be stored outside of the refrigerator if you don’t mind them wilting slightly more quickly with time.
To store broccoli rabe outside of the refrigerator, place it inside a paper bag and seal tightly.
Place in an area with good air circulation for up to three days before wilting too much.
It should be stored in cool temperatures below 45 degrees Fahrenheit or so that it does not spoil quickly from potential warmth.
Do not wash broccoli rabe before storing it, as this will accelerate spoilage.
In conclusion, broccoli rabe is a great vegetable to have in your kitchen.
It is easy to prepare, eaten raw in salads, cooked as a side dish, or served with other dishes for added flavor.
To bring out the best flavor, it is important to cook broccoli rabe before eating.
It should be washed well and trimmed before cooking with boiling water or steaming being two common preparation methods.
Give it a try and enjoy.