Broccoli Rabe: The Other Broccoli

comments (3) February 2nd, 2010

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ChrisMcLaughlin Chris McLaughlin, contributor
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Harvest rapinis tender stems and leaves.
 
Photo by jaynefury under the Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0.
Broccoli raab is also known as rapini or Italian broccoli.
 
Photo by natjwest under the Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0.
Broccoli raab adds a little bite to otherwise mild dishes.
 
Photo by benkatero under the Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0.
Harvest rapinis tender stems and leaves.
 
Photo by jaynefury under the Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0.Click To Enlarge

Harvest rapini's tender stems and leaves.

 

Photo by jaynefury under the Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0.


Part of being a gardener is breaking out of the traditional mold once in a while and trying something new. In my case (because new varieties are like potato chips for me), I'm giving several veggies a go that I've never grown before. One of them is broccoli rabe, also called broccoli raab (B. rapa); traditional broccoli's tangy cousin.

In Italy, it's known as "rapini" or "Italian broccoli" and the Italians can't seem to get enough of it. Of course, this is coming from the people that worship broccoli as a whole. Although rapini resembles regular broccoli, it's not the pre-blossoming florets you're after, it's primarily rapini's tender stalks, and leaves. In fact, broccoli raab is actually a turnip that's grown for its greens. The flowers and small florets may also be harvested.

While it's growing, rapini likes to be watered, and tends to bolt in the heat. It likes cool, short days, and resents warm weather. Because it matures quickly, with a little planning, gardeners are often able to get several crops in a year. Harvest broccoli raab while it's young and tender (just as the florets begin to open) for a peppery flavor with a little "bite". As this vegetable ages, it becomes woody and quite bitter.

As far as nutrition, this plant has earned its place on the healthy dinner table as its loaded with vitamin C, vitamin A, calcium, potassium, and iron. Watch for this unheralded vegetable in the coming growing season, it's one that's catching on. Try these heirloom raab (pronounced "rob") varieties:

  • Sorrento
  • Spigariello (Minestra Nera)
  • Zamboni

 


posted in: rapini, Italian broccoli, broccoli rabe, broccoli raab

Comments (3)

Ericthomas21 writes: I like this.
Posted: 12:25 am on October 25th
LeslieinPayson writes: I grew Raab for the first time last year, and won't ever be w/o it now. I really love the stuff- raw in salads or cooked in olive oil with garlic.
Posted: 2:34 pm on February 11th
Grubbycup writes: I haven't tried Raab, but it must be the year to play with broccoli, I'm trying Romanesco broccoli for the first time this year.

Good luck with it,

Peace, love, and puka shells.
Posted: 2:58 pm on February 2nd
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