Saturday, February 16, 2013

Broccoli Raab, Rape et al

This vegetable goes by many monikers, both here and in Europe. Most Americans call it broccoli raab or broccoli rabe (pronouncing it "rahb.") I've always know it as broccoli rape (pronounced "RAH-pay") as Italians call it. But it's also called cima di rapa, rapini, and sometimes broccolini or broccoletti. Who knew that this delicious vegetable, a staple of Chinese diets as well as Mediterranean ones, went by so many names? 

One of my readers emailed me, asking me to post more vegetable recipes, so I'm going to attempt to do that more often. This is one of my favorites. 

Broccoli rape is related to the mustard family and is packed with vitamins A, C and K. But I eat it because it tastes great. It's got a bitterness to it that I love, but I tame it with a little blanching. Don't worry, it'll still have a bitter edge. It's nothing like regular broccoli. 

It's a beautiful sight to behold yellow fields of it in full bloom in springtime. They're related to the bitter greens I pick in the wild each year for free! Click here for more info about picking your own in the wild. But if you wait to pick them when you see the flowers, they're way too bitter to eat.

I'm usually disappointed when I eat it in restaurants, because it's either overcooked or the stalks are fibrous. To overcome that at home, I peel each stalk a couple of inches from the bottom, something most restaurants won't take the time to do. But it makes such a difference since the cooking time will be shorter and the stalks will be tender. 

You can see the difference here, between the stalks on the left - that were peeled - and those on the right, that weren't peeled and that look much tougher and more fibrous.

My favorite way to eat them is a simple preparation: Just parboil them for a couple of minutes in ample water, drain and toss with some olive oil, minced garlic, red pepper flakes and salt. A little squirt of lemon at the end adds a nice finishing tang.

If you've cooked too much and have some left over, you can easily refashion them into another meal. Add a few sautèed mushrooms to the broccoli rape, and toss everything together with a little cooked pasta. Top with grated parmesan cheese.

Or use it as the base of a sandwich with slices of roast pork, roasted peppers and melted provolone cheese.

Sautèed Broccoli Rape

printable recipe here

Trim the bottom couple of inches from the stalks. Boil the broccoli rape in water for two to three minutes. Drain well. In another pan, sautè some minced garlic in a few tablespoons of olive oil. Add the broccoli rape and toss in the oil. Add a generous amount of salt, and a few shakes of crushed red pepper. Arrange in a bowl and sprinkle the top with a squirt of fresh lemon juice.

If you have leftover the next day, sautè some mushrooms in a bit of olive oil, add the leftover broccoli rape and some cooked and drained pasta. Serve with parmesan cheese on top.

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  1. That is a vegetable I particularly like! Perfect with pasta.



  2. LOVE LOVE LOVE!!!! I, being an Irish girl, never even knew what it was until my I met my mother's second husband, Sal (Pop, as I called him). He taught me a lot about cooking that I never knew, and Broccoli Raab was one of them.

    I did not know about peeling the stems though. I will try that.

    I love using leftovers in a sandwich with some nice crusty bread.

  3. the cima di rapa was wonderful. brought back memories of my Grandmother who immigrated from Abruzzo ad taught me to cook.

  4. Love it! I just ordered it recently in a restaurant, broccoli rabe, crumbled sausage and 8 finger cavatelli, yum, I ate the leftovers today. Your sandwich looks to die for too Linda.

  5. Excellent post! I always like to see everyone else's "how to" and "step by step" (SBS) posts. Lots of us have been cooking for a long time, and have so much to offer, to both the seasoned cook and the novice. Not a day goes by that I do not learn something new about food or cooking, either from web sites, books, magazines or TV.

    Often though, I think we forget that many of our readers really do not know how to accomplish various kitchen tasks. Preparation of broccoli rape is a prime example. And I think they want to learn. I always peel and blanch it, just as you do. Without those two steps it is too tough and bitter for my taste.

    Now I want some green veggies.

  6. I loved this post. I have never seen this vegetable here in Spain, we have something called "coli rabi" which is also green but round and we eat it raw in salads...very good ideas to use leftovers! Marta

  7. Love this with pasta. Can you believe that it is only within the last year or so that it has come to our grocers (under rapine - Rapunzel's name for it). But it was mentioned that people here don't know what to do with it - so don't know if it will stay. I should hang up this post in the produce aisle.

  8. amo molto queste verdure invernali, sono sane e piene di vitamine! buona settimana Linda!

  9. A little sun-dried tomato adds a bit of color and sweetness to offset the bitterness of the rabe.

  10. I made brocolli raab yesterday, Linda, for my son-in-law, and I am going to post the recipe this week ;) It is his favorite and a little hard to come by here at this time of year.

    I agree that the stems can be too fiberous and I usually cut them off quite a bit. It seems wasteful when I do it but then it tastes so much better!

  11. A true classic! I love the slightl bitterness of broccoletti (that's the name they use in Rome) and I don't think a week goes by without my eating it at least once.

  12. One of my favorite veggies. Never thought to peel it, I will now, thanks for the tip!

  13. My favorite vegetable! I totally agree with you about the peeling/blanching technique. One of my most popular fall/winter catering dishes is a warm farro salad with garlic-marinated rapini, toasted pine nuts, dried cranberries or cherries, some good olive oil and a touch of aceto balsamico tradizionale. Thanks for

  14. We pronounced it "robbie" in my family. I absolutely crave it, although as a kid probably not so much! Ciao, Karen

  15. I never grew up with my family preparing broccoli rape (and I prefer how the Italians pronounce it), but you've expained it so vividly for me in how to prepare it! It just sounds extraordinary . . . I'll have to drive to Greenville to find it a Whole Foods, because it won't be available anywhere in this little town where I live (a gelato biz just shut down because not enough people knew what gelato was here!) Hard to believe! Thanks for this wonderful recipe LInda!