Mmm… Rapini is one of my new favourite veggies because of the taste. I had no idea of its health benefits until guest blogger and Flexitarian cookbook author, Bindu Grandhi, sent in this article! Check it out and then dish some up for dinner.
Broccoli Rabe (pronounced “rob”) is a centuries old staple in Italian and Chinese cuisine, not to mention my kitchen! But lately it’s gaining popularity in American cuisine.
Though this dark green leafy vegetable resembles broccoli, it is actually a closer relative of the turnip family and goes by many names such as rapini, broccoletti, cima di rapa, Italian or Chinese broccoli, and turnip broccoli. Unlike broccoli, its bitter flavor is similar to that of kale or mustard greens and combines well with sweet or spicy dishes.
Broccoli Rabe is not only replete with bold flavor but also loads of nutrients. Packed with potassium, iron and calcium, dietary fiber and as well as Vitamins A, C and K. It is a good source of folate (a B vitamin that protects against birth defects and heart disease) and also contains lutein, which is an antioxidant that protects the retinas of your eyes from damage caused by free radicals and may slow the onset of macular degeneration.
The huge news surrounding broccoli rabe is its cancer-preventing potential due to a rich source of glucosinolates, which your body converts to cancer-fighting sulforophanes and indoles. Studies show that these substances are particularly effective against stomach, lung, esophagus and colon and breast cancers.
Other health benefits include:
- Slows aging
- Stronger bones
- Decreased risk of hypertension
- Lessens inflammation
- Alzheimer’s protection
- Stroke prevention
How to Buy and Store
Broccoli rabe is available year round but its peak season is late fall to early spring. Look for crisp vibrant-colored smaller leaves for a milder and tender flavor and avoid bunches with yellowed leaves, flowering buds, or dry-ended stalks. Wrap in a damp paper towel inside a plastic bag and store in the refrigerator for up to four days.
Every part of broccoli rabe is edible but I recommend removing the tough stem bottoms before cooking. Blanching broccoli rabe briefly in lightly salted water will reduce bitterness. It tastes great whether you choose to steam, sauté or stir-fry and makes a superb accompaniment to pasta and rice.
Here’s a recipe for you to try:
Sautéed & Spiced Broccoli Rabe over LinguinePrint This
- 1 bunch broccoli rabe, trim bottom 1-2 inches from stems
- ½ lb. uncooked linguine pasta
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 onion, peeled and diced
- 2-4 jalapeno peppers, stemmed and chopped
- 6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- ½ tsp. red pepper flakes
- 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh oregano
- 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
- Salt to taste
- Cut the broccoli rabe into florets and slice the tender stalks.
- In a medium pot, bring lightly salted water (enough to cover the rabe) to a boil. Add broccoli rabe for 1 minute, drain and set aside.
- In a large pot boil enough water for the linguine and cook according to package directions.
- Meanwhile, in a large nonstick sauté pan, heat the oil. Add the onions and jalapeno peppers, and sauté for 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, and sauté for 1 minute. Stir in the oregano and basil, and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the cooked broccoli rabe and salt, and sauté for a minute or so.
- Drain the pasta. Toss it with the broccoli rabe mixture and serve.
About the Author
Author of Spice Up Your Life, Bindu Grandhi is passionate about healthy and flavourful cooking, especially when it’s flexitarian. She shares her health knowledge with the world by providing practical, healthy and tasty recipes as The Flex Cook.
How do you like your rapini?