Sunday Food: Broccoli Rabe
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.
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.
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.
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