Broccoli rabe belongs to the broccoli family, but it does not develop a head. Instead, it is long and has thin stalks ending with small delicate florets.
Broccoli rabe has a nutty, bitter, pungent flavor which perks up the taste of bland foods. The vegetable is rich in Vitamins A, C, D and K, as well as potassium.
It is also known as Chinese flowering cabbage, Italian or Chinese broccoli, raap, rapine, rappone, taitcat, broccoli rape, turnip broccoli, Italian turnip, and other names throughout the world.
Selection and Storage
Broccoli rabe is in season between late fall and early spring. Since it is grown in many states, as well as in other countries, supply is available almost all year round, except for the summer months of June and July.
Broccoli rabe is usually refrigerated in the market or at groceries because it wilts easily. Look for hard, green, and small stems with tightly closed, dark green florets. Leaves should be bright green, crisp, and erect.
It can only be stored for up to three days in your refrigerator crisper. Store it unwashed and wrapped in a plastic bag or a wet towel. If you want to store it longer, blanch then freeze it.
- Wash it thoroughly in cold water then shake off the liquid.
- Cut off the bottom portion of the stalks, which are too tough to eat.
- Chop off the stems up to where the leaves begin. When cooking, put in the stems ahead of the leaves.
Ways of Cooking Broccoli Rabe
- Broccoli rabe is much better when cooked. Raw broccoli rabe is very bitter, yet it has no flavor. Even a light steaming brings out its unique pungent flavor.
- Cook the broccoli rabe the same way as you would cook broccoli. You can steam, braise, boil, or sauté it. Cook it for only eight to ten minutes, and make sure not to overcook.
- You can steam the broccoli rabe over plain water or chicken broth. You can sauté the broccoli with oil and garlic afterwards.
- You can also prepare it as a cold salad. Steam it, then cool it and dress it with oil and seasonings like chili peppers or garlic.
- Steamed broccoli rabe adds taste to boiled potatoes. Dress it with garlic and olive oil.
- Use broccoli rabe as a sauce for your pasta. Steam it, and then mix with hot sausages, garlic, and olive oil.