Season for Broccoli Rabe October - April
Broccoli Rabe Described
Broccoli rabe - pronounced "rahb" - will sometimes be labeled as rapini, broccoletti, or cima di rapa. And while it appears to have baby-like broccoli heads surrounded by leaves on long thin stems (hence the name), the florets are anything but a toned-down version of broccoli. In fact, they are bitter and pungent and more closely resemble mustard greens with a zesty flavor and intense emerald color. Rabe is a member of the Brassiceae tribe (or cruciferous vegetables) along with mustards and cabbages, and shares a subspecies with the turnip.
How to Buy and Store Broccoli Rabe
Choose your rabe for its firm, green stems, copious heads and vibrant green leaves. The flower buds should be tightly closed and dark green, avoiding those with yellowed flowers or stalks that are split at the bottom, as this is an indicator of old age. Smaller-leaved plants are younger and ten to be more mild and tender tasting. Broccoli rabe is quite perishable, so it might be a good idea to give your stalks a sniff, avoiding any with a cabbage-y smell. Wrap your rabe in a wet paper towel, place it in a plastic bag and it will keep in your crisper for up to four days.
How to Cook Broccoli Rabe
Like its cruciferous cousins, broccoli rabe can be roasted, steamed, braised, or simply sautéed. Begin by washing your rabe under cold running water, slicing off the very bottoms of the stalks, then chopping into uniform pieces for ease of and even cooking. If you're a little turned off by the intense flavor of broccoli rabe, you can lessen its bitterness or bite by blanching and shocking - or boiling in salted water for 1 minute, then draining and giving it a dip in ice water. And now you can proceed with your desired mode of cooking. Try not to overcook however, as this will drain the veggie of its nutrients and release and unsavory scent. Try our Organic Broccolini & Spinach Soup recipe and substitute broccoli rabe for the broccolini.
Health Benefits of Broccoli Rabe
Like all members of the Brassica family, broccoli rabe is renowned for its cancer- preventing and fighting potential. It contains glucosinolates which studies have found to be particularly effective against stomach, lung, colon, breast and prostate cancers. Broccoli rabe is also an excellent source of antioxidant-rich vitamins A, C and K. The bitterness also reflects a good source of folate - a wonderful B vitamin that protects against birth defects and heart disease - as well as potassium, fiber, and calcium.
Why Buy Natural and Organic Broccoli Rabe
Cruciferous veggies are prized for their health benefits, eaten both because they are delicious and they impart valuable nutrients into our bodies. To maximize both, choose organic. That way you know your rabe has been grown without synthetic pesticides and fertilizers and comes from farmers who are dedicated to sustainable farming methods, protecting the environment and keeping toxins out of our food. When broccoli rabe is organic, you can rest assured it's as healthy as can be.