Have you seen broccoli rabe in your grocery store produce aisle but bypassed it because you didn’t know what to do with it? Broccoli rabe is a nutritious leafy green — that sports what looks like baby broccoli florets — that is popular in Chinese and Italian cuisine, and can easily become a veggie staple for your healthy spring dishes. Broccoli rabe season is coming up, and we have a few key cooking tips and recipes to inspire you to purchase a few broccoli rabe stalks and get cooking.
What is broccoli rabe?
Even though broccoli rabe sounds like it is related to broccoli, the veggie is actually of the same variety of vegetables as turnips, cabbage, kale and mustard greens. Broccoli rabe is a distinctly
flavored leafy green that is very popular in Chinese and Italian cooking, though the vegetable is grown all over the world.
Broccoli rabe season
The best time to buy and prepare broccoli rabe is during late fall and early spring. With spring around the corner, start looking for the bright leafy green stalks in your grocery stores and local
farmers markets soon. Broccoli rabe does have a very distinct flavor, with a bitter, almost spicy taste; it’s important to buy it as fresh as possible to avoid an unpleasant bitterness.
Before you make a final judgement on this leafy green’s flavor, be sure to cook it first, as cooking will mellow it out.
Preparing broccoli rabe
Before you start cooking your broccoli rabe, rinse it well in water to get rid of any sandy residue. To mellow out some of the veggie’s bitterness, blanch the broccoli rabe in salted boiling
water for a few minutes then sauté, braise, steam or stir-fry it.
Broccoli rabe can prepared just about any way you prepare other vegetables. Broccoli rabe holds up well to braising, but can become a simple pleasure with a sauté in olive oil sprinkled with
salt and red pepper. Broccoli rabe is tasty on its own, but can be deliciously combined with pasta or rice. You can also serve this versatile veggie as a side dish to meat and potatoes.
Broccoli rabe pairs well with Asian flavors like stir-fried noodles, steamed rice, or topped with soy sauce. It also works with Italian flavors when pair with lots of garlic, sausage or pasta and a
light olive oil sauce. Simply prepare broccoli rabe as you would your favorite leafy greens, and it will soon become your new favorite green veggie.
Broccoli rabe is nutritious
One additional bonus of broccoli rabe is its tasty bounty of health benefits. As with most dark leafy greens, it is chock full of vitamins A, C and K as well as potassium, iron and calcium. It also
contains phytochemicals that fight cancer and improve your overall health.