Take a bite of broccoli rabe and you'll see why this member of the cabbage family is so popular in Italy—and should be a staple in the American kitchen, too. Its peppery flavor can't be duplicated (though it could be compared with the bitter bite of arugula), and since every part is edible, it's an easy way to add zing to dishes. While broccoli rabe is but a distant cousin to its namesake vegetable (it’s actually a closer relative of Chinese cabbage), it shares its nutritional cred. A single bunch contains about 16 grams of protein, 12 grams of fiber, and 5 grams of iron.
Broccoli rabe also goes by “rapini” and “raab.” Don’t confuse it with similar-looking broccolini, though—that’s a mix of broccoli and Chinese kale, and tastes more like (yup) broccoli. Go for young rabe: pick bunches with deep green leaves that have no yellowing or spots. The stems should be thin, firm, and bright green; the cut ends should be smooth, not cracked or stringy. A few tiny yellow buds on the florets are fine, but too many means the broccoli rabe isn't fresh. It’s more tender in cooler months, from fall till spring, so now's the time to use the versatile vegetable to power up these recipes.
PREP TIP: To remove the woody ends from the stems, treat the vegetable the same way you would asparagus: Snap off the tough parts where they naturally bend and break.
Simple Sautéed Broccoli Rabe
Blanching this vegetable before sautéing it with garlic yields vibrant-green rabe with less bite. Finish with a squeeze of lemon and a shower of red-pepper flakes.
Italian Pressed Picnic Sandwich
Crisp-tender broccoli rabe shines as a counterpoint to salty prosciutto, sweet Peppadew peppers, tangy goat cheese, and briny olive tapenade in this impressive make-ahead sandwich.
Vegan Lentil Soup
Broccoli rabe lends color and fiber to this lentil- and tomato-based soup. Spiced with cumin and coriander, it makes a hearty, warming meal any night of the week.