Broccoli Rabe: A Vitamin-K Powerhouse


Flower on Rapini

Broccoli rabe, pronounced RAHB, is a type of dark leafy green that forms florets similar to that of broccoli, although it does not form big heads.  It is also known as brocoletti, rapini, Italian broccoli, and by other names as well.  These vegetables are actually subtly different plants, but can be used interchangeably in recipes.  Broccolini is actually a separate, trademarked plant.  It is a hybrid of Chinese kale and broccoli. 

Broccoli rabe is actually not a relative to broccoli, but instead calls the turnip its cousin.  It has lots of uses, and all the parts of broccoli rabe, including the leaves, long thin stalks, and those florets, can be used in dishes.   In broccoli rabe, the stems are the highlight, not the florets.  In fact, when buying this vegetable, look for bunches with smaller or few florets at all.  It is used frequently in Italian cuisine, and in Asian cooking.

Broccoli rabe is best blanched for a minute before sauteing, similarly to broccoli, to reduce the bitterness.  Easiest preparations include sauteing with garlic and a few red pepper flakes in olive oil, which is a common Italian method, or to do the same in a neutral oil and adding a little soy sauce and a drop of two of sesame oil at the end to give an Asian flair.

Broccoli rabe lends itself to preparations similarly to broccoli.  It can be used in soups, braised dishes, stews, sautees and stir-fries, grilled, and even roasted.  It is lovely in pasta as well.  Broccoli rabe makes lovely pizzas and flatbreads, particularly when it is treated like spinach instead of broccoli.  It is great wilted in sandwiches and salads. 

Give this dark leafy green a home, it's well worth adding it to the recipe repertoire, it is a vitamin K powerhouse.

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