Where Great Meals Begin

Ingredient Feature: Broccoli Rabe

By on Jan 20, 2019 in BLOG | 0 comments

Broccoli Rabe is a great item this time of year. Supplies are good, and we’re seeing very nice quality. So, we wanted to dive into this leafy green vegetable to learn more about what makes Rabe so fab!


Talk about misnomers — broccoli rabe isn’t broccoli at all. It’s actually a close relative of turnips and a member of the Brassiceae family, better known as “the mustards.” Adding to the confusion is the fact that it answers to several names, including broccoletti, raab, and rapini. Just don’t call it Broccolini–that’s a trademarked name for an entirely different vegetable. None of this has confused Chinese and Italian cooks in the least — they revere this long, stalky vegetable for its pleasing bitterness and crunch.


Bushy florets and curly, bright green leaves promise the best flavor. Avoid rabe with droopy leaves and yellow florets, mushy stems, and black spots. Rabe’s notorious bitterness intensifies over time, so make sure to use it within a few days of purchasing.


Trim the hard bits from the stem ends, and peel the thickest part of the stems as you would asparagus. Blanch in salted water, then shock in an ice bath to reduce some of the bitterness. Rabe is best-suited for quicker cooking methods, such as sautéeing, steaming, and grilling. And it doesn’t need much in the way of sauces or seasonings. In Italy, the most common treatment is a fruity olive oil, a sprinkle of chili flakes, and a squeeze of lemon. Given its bite, it works best in a meal when partnered with roasted or grilled meats, and alongside a hearty grain, like polenta or farro.


Portions of this post were first published in Richmond Magazine. All content written by Stephanie Ganz.