Sunday Food: Broccoli Rabe

Broccoli rabe in our garden

Broccoli rabe in our garden

A new discovery for me this year, broccoli rabe, also called rapini, is a nicely tart veggie that is used in Italy and around the Mediterranean, and resembles a chinese vegetable with similar characteristics.   I find that it grows easily in early starting pots, and it was a hearty addition to the early garden which got too cold for our mild weather varieties of veggies.

The young leaves of these plants as used in cooking are either the same as or the South European equivalent of turnip tops or turnip greens.

Rapini has many spiked leaves that surround clusters of green buds that resemble small heads of broccoli. Small, edible yellow flowers may be blooming among the buds. The flavor of rapini has been described as nutty, bitter, and pungent. Rapini is a source of vitamins A, C, and K, as well as potassium, calcium, and iron.[2]

The cultivated vegetable probably descends from a wild herb related to the turnip that grew either in China or the Mediterranean region. Rapini is similar in shape to the Chinese Brassica oleracea cultivar called kai-lan. Rapini is now grown throughout the world. Rapini is available all year long, but its peak season in the Northern Hemisphere is fall to spring.


In Europe, it is used mostly in southern Italian cuisine (in particular Basilicata, Apulia, Campania, and Sicily) and also in Roman cuisine. It is also popular in Portuguese cuisine and in that of Galicia in Spain.

In Umbria and other Central Italy regions, rapini sautéed with garlic, chili pepper and guanciale can be a side dish for porchetta, grilled pork ribs and sausages and other pork dishes.

It is a member of the mustard family, and the small edible flowers resemble those of the mustard plants.   It’s a very fine element in a green salad, and I like the decorative effect of the yellow flowers especially

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Ruth Calvo

Ruth Calvo

I've blogged at The Seminal for about two years, was at cabdrollery for around three. I live in N.TX., worked for Sen.Yarborough of TX after graduation from Wellesley, went on to receive award in playwriting, served on MD Arts Council after award, then managed a few campaigns in MD and served as assistant to a member of the MD House for several years, have worked in legal offices and written for magazines, now am retired but addicted to politics, and join gladly in promoting liberals and liberal policies.


  1. Ruth
    June 7, 2015 at 7:03 am

    good morning, pups, salad fare today. Incidentally, I like to use a balsamic vinegar dressing, guess my tastes lean toward the spicy side.

  2. Alice X
    June 7, 2015 at 8:23 am

    Morning Ruth and all may they be on the way. I use organic balsamic vinegar myself. I’m an organic nut. Well that means organic nuts too. Sorry I’ll try my humor again after coffee.

    Saw this piece on the Economist on ad blocking software, haven’t read it yet.


  3. Ruth
    June 7, 2015 at 8:26 am

    You will get a smile out of hearing, first I had to cancel out an ad to read that article.
    Yep, I try to use the least additive laced stuff I can find, and my tastes are luckily bent in that direction too. Very much want to stay healthy.

  4. Canyon2
    June 7, 2015 at 9:28 am

    Good morning Ruth, Alice X and pups yet to arrive.
    Thank you for the post Ruth.
    I love salads but being an old man I have to stay away from Broccoli and Cauliflower as it causes Gout for me and then hospitalization.
    It is supposed to be a rich man’s disease. I want to see the riches…

  5. Ruth
    June 7, 2015 at 9:31 am

    Oh, dear, I have never heard broccoli being associated with gout. This being a member of the mustard family, though, not sure it actually qualifies but best to stay away from anything that sets off bad effects.
    Hi, thanks for visiting. Me, too, I won’t mind the syndrome if I get the up side, please.

  6. Alice X
    June 7, 2015 at 9:43 am

    oiy boiye – never heard that one either.

    I eat as much cauliflower and broccoli as I can afford, which isn’t so much.

    But if I see any riches I am going to get some.

    Then I am going to buy a tooth. Have my plumbing fixed. And so on and so forth.

  7. June 7, 2015 at 9:44 am

    Good Morning, R,A, C2. Quick flyby on the way to generating my blog for the day.

    Low temps this morning indicate a hot afternoon and I’ll likely have to install the window AC later. It was hard to fall asleep last night.

  8. Canyon2
    June 7, 2015 at 9:45 am

    The school I work at has salad offered on Tuesday and Thursday’s and I always order it and they are kind enough to leave out either of those two ingredients.
    After the last week long hospitalization, the Dr. asked me, “Are you ready to finally give up those two ingredients in your diet…?
    I could not walk and said “Yes sir”

  9. Ruth
    June 7, 2015 at 9:54 am

    My weather report says it’s unusually hot in that area, hope you can stay out of the midday sun as much as possible.
    will look for your post later, first am going to finish off some garden weeding I’m intent on before heavy rain here.

  10. Ruth
    June 7, 2015 at 9:55 am

    The Enforcer there. Guess that is one way to modify behavior.

  11. Ruth
    June 7, 2015 at 9:55 am

    No gout here, or riches.
    Guess I’ll make do.

  12. Ruth
    June 7, 2015 at 9:57 am

    thanks for visiting, pups, the front has a flower garden badly needing weeded today, so I’m off to do that bit and a barbeque, have a good day all, and may all your broccoli be the right sort.

  13. Canyon2
    June 7, 2015 at 10:28 am

    Good morning Lawrence. I will be looking forward to reading your work today.
    Thank you in advance.

  14. Canyon2
    June 7, 2015 at 10:31 am

    Alice X, I am sending you good thoughts on getting that tooth fixed as soon as possible.
    The plumbing too.

  15. Beverly Lawson
    June 7, 2015 at 11:01 am

    Good Morning All, Definitely slept in with a lovely start to our day…..Nice. Thanks Ruth you amaze me….I am such a non-cook, so I am always so impressed by your kitchen talent…I mostly gave up any effort several years ago.

  16. June 7, 2015 at 12:47 pm

    Where’s the tooth fairy when we need her?

    Oh! She buys a fallen tooth! My bad!

  17. Alice X
    June 7, 2015 at 12:56 pm

    I saved the fallen crown for my fiasco file which continues to grow.

    Yon fairy can come at her leisure and make me an offer.

  18. Screwtape
    June 7, 2015 at 8:55 pm

    It’s my understanding all the Cima di Rapas are actually flowering headed turnips, meaning anything with “Rapa” “Rabe,” or”Rapini” in its name. And there are many cultivars, some mature quickly with very small mini-heads, others have longer maturity with larger heads up to golf ball size or so. They look like small headed broccoli, sort of, but really aren’t.

    The Cavolo Broccolo are true flowering headed broccoli, unlike the Rapas, but related. I have both growing in my garden. The Rapas have a lighter green foliage and sharper flavor, the Broccolo is much darker green and a bit sweeter. I also have mustards growing not too far away, maybe not a good idea since they’re ALL likely to hybridize from this summer’s seeds. So, what will I find growing there next year as their children? Can’t wait too see, but there could be a mustardy hot broccoli or turnip there.

    What I’ve found is seeds for Rapa are less expensive than for the true broccoli, not a great difference there. Also, the Rapas stay tender a bit longer in the garden. But then, the broccoli are a bit sweeter.

    I suggest what ever you grow of these, stay ahead of them. Cut them, thin them out and plant more. Get big packets of seeds so you can plant some now, some more several weeks later. Use them soon in your kitchen instead of just admiring the plants, or they’ll get too woody to eat.