What Is Broccoli Rabe And How Is It Different From Broccoli?

When you hear the word “broccoli rabe” you might think it is a new variety of broccoli or an extension of the broccoli plant, but in reality, this plant has nothing in common with the broccoli family, in fact, it is related to turnips. Its distinctive taste makes it a popular ingredient in multiple dishes across the globe. Let’s explore more about broccoli rabe!

What is Broccoli Rabe?

Broccoli rabe (Brassica Ruvo) is known by a variety of other names like raab, rapini, turnip broccoli, or bitter broccoli. It is classified as a cruciferous vegetable alongside other vegetables like cabbage and cauliflower which belong to the same family. Broccoli rabe has long thin green stalks which are covered with large dark green leaves mixed with small buds that look like broccoli florets. The major difference between broccoli rabe and broccoli is that broccoli rabe has small individual buds at the top of each stalk instead of heads like broccoli. 

Image Credit: Flickr user fritishCC BY-NC-SA 2.0 )

Broccoli rabe is popular in Asia, the Mediterranean, and the United States (US). Broccoli rabe is native to Italy, where it was originally harvested from the wild before being cultivated. Currently, it is cultivated worldwide, in the US it is mainly grown in California. 

This plant likes to grow in the cooler months but if it’s left to grow for a longer time the plant becomes sweet and less bitter. 

What Does Broccoli Rabe Taste Like? 

Broccoli rabe is bitter compared to broccoli. Its taste is somewhat similar to mustard greens or turnip greens. A great facet of this vegetable is the fact that the entire plant is edible and requires no preparation, resulting in quick, handy meals.

Varieties of Broccoli Rabe

This plant falls into two categories, the spring variety and the fall variety, which buds earlier. Other varieties include Quarantina, Super Rapini, and Sessantina.

Culinary Uses of Broccoli Rabe

These deliciously bitter stems, leaves, and buds are commonly used in Italian cuisine where it is usually paired with pork or Provolone cheese in sandwiches. It can be blanched, sautéed in olive oil, roasted until it’s crisp, or pureed into a sauce or dressing. 

These mouthwatering Suvie recipes make the best out of broccoli rabe. 

●      Roast Pork Tenderloin

●      Seared steak with Rabe

●      Orecchiette with Rapini

Broccoli rabe is a star in every dish and recipe. It can be served with sausages, added as a pizza topping, packed into frittatas, incorporated into burgers, mixed with risottos, stewed into soups and tossed with pasta, and much more!

Feature Image: Flickr user g[wiz] ( CC BY-NC 2.0 )

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