What is Broccoli Rabe? (And How Should You Cook It?)

By F&W Editors Posted February 17, 2016

Our guide to broccoli rabe.

Also known as rapini, broccoli rabe is not just the scraggly outcroppings of a broccoli plant or baby broccoli, like you might think. In fact, the leafy, cruciferous vegetable is closely related to the turnip. The deliciously bitter stems, leaves and nutty, broccoli-esque buds are all edible and commonly used in Italian cooking—you’ve probably seen it paired with pork and Provolone on Philadelphia’s other famous sandwich.

Don’t be daunted by the vegetable’s wild and unruly appearance; broccoli rabe is easy to cook. It’s great simply blanched and sautéed in olive oil, roasted until crisp or even pureed into a piquant pesto. Here, nine fantastic recipes for broccoli rabe.

1. Broccoli Rabe with Sausage 

Food & Wine:

Chef Gabe Thompson of NYC's new L'Apicio turns an Italian sandwich filling into a delicious side.

2. Broccoli-Rabe and Ricotta Frittata 

Food & Wine:

The ricotta in this delicious frittata mellows the bite of the broccoli rabe.

3. Cavatelli with Roasted Broccoli Rabe and Harissa 

Food & Wine:

Related: Cavatelli with Sardinian Meat Sauce

Roasting broccoli rabe brings out its sweetness.

4. Broccoli Rabe Risotto with Grilled Lemon 

Food & Wine:

This vegetarian risotto gets a flavor boost from broccoli rabe puree.

5. Beef, Broccoli Rabe and Provolone Panini 

Food & Wine:

Juicy roast beef and melty provolone cheese are incredible on a sandwich with bitter broccoli rabe.

6. Stewed Broccoli Rabe with Spicy Tomato Sauce 

Food & Wine:

Chef Ryan Hardy mixes garlic and chiles, along with fennel, into a satisfying tomato sauce that balances the bitter greens and adds lovely color, too.

7. Broccoli Rabe with Black Olives and Lemon Zest 

Food & Wine:

This unusual side dish pairs broccoli rabe with funky black olives and bright lemon zest.

8. Sausage and Broccoli Rabe Burgers 

Food & Wine:

Chef Marc Vetri’s favorite Italian ingredients—homemade sausage, broccoli rabe and Fontina cheese—are great on pasta, but they make even better burgers.

9. Broccoli Rabe Pesto Bruschetta 

Food & Wine:

Chef Gabe Thompson turns broccoli rabe into a healthy, peppery pesto that's delicious on toasted bread.


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