Broccoli Rabe

photo credit: gourmetsleuth


Broccoli Rabe (pronounced Broccoli Rob) is also referred to as rabe or rapini. This is another leafy green vegetable that is frequently eaten in Southern Italy and has become popular in the United States. The vegetable has a slightly bitter taste and is frequently steamed or lightly sauteed in olive oil. The Broccoli Rabe flower looks similar to the broccoli florets. Despite the name this plant is not a type of broccoli but it is in the same brassica family. One of the many health benefits of this vegetable is that it is rich in certain phytochemicals, including sulforaphane and indoles. These are chemicals which are proving to protect us against cancer.

History Of Broccoli Rabe

The origins of broccoli rabe (brassica rapa) can be traced back to China as well as the Mediterranean.  Given this vegetable is more closely related to a turnip than to broccoli the heritage is more likely Chinese given it is the home to literally hundreds of similar greens.

The U.S. history is quite well documented.  Broccoli was brought to the U.S. in 1927 by the D'Arrigo brothers, Italian immigrants. One of the brothers found the plant growing wild all over California and recognized from his homeland.  He began breeding the plant in the 1930's and the planted has been marketed here ever since that time.

Featured Recipe

Broccoli Rabe and Pancetta Stuffed Mushrooms by


  • 1 ounce sliced pancetta or bacon, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 medium shallot, minced
  • 1 recipe Golden Mushroom Caps (see below) with stems reserved, cleaned and finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tablespoons dry white wine
  • 1 pound broccoli rabe, trimmed to leaves and florets only, roughly chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F with the rack in the upper position. Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and cook until beginning to crisp, 4 to 6 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and add the shallots. Cook until softened and translucent. Add the mushroom stems and the garlic and cook for 3 more minutes. Add the wine and the broccoli rabe, cover, and let steam for 4 minutes, until the broccoli rabe is bright green. Remove the cover and cook until the liquid has evaporated, 1 to 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the heat.
  2. Using a small spoon, fill each mushroom cap with the filling. Place the caps on a baking sheet. Bake until the mushrooms are hot throughout, 2 to 4 minutes. Garnish with the thyme and serve hot.
Makes 2 dozen 

Grow Broccoli Rabe At Home

Brassica rapa - This is a nice, fast growing, cool weather plant.  It matures in about 40 to 60 days.   The best time to grow it is in early spring and also in fall.   Plants grow to 12 inches tall. If grown in too much heat the plants will bolt (go to seed) too quickly. 


Pick the greens after the florets form but before the florets begin to open. Cut the plants at the ground level, or where the stem begins to get thick and toughen.  If you harvest correctly, and the weather remains cool, you can expect a second and possibly  third cutting from each plant.

How to Store

If you are growing your own plants, then it is best to harvest right before your meal. If you need to store it,  seal it in a plastic bag and refrigerate it in your vegetable crisper for up to 5 days.

Fun Fact about Broccoli Rabe

Nutrition Information For Broccoli Rabe

Serving Size
1 cup chopped
Calories from Fat
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g
Saturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 13mg
Total Carbohydrate 1g
Dietary Fiber 1g
Sugars 0g
Protein 1g
Vitamin A  0% Vitamin C  0%
Calcium  0% Iron  0%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Cooking Tip

The bitter flavor of this healthy green may not be to your liking. A good tip from Author, Julia Della Croce is to boil the rapini first, then drain and sauté it. Also, make sure to peel the tough lower stalks so the cooked vegetable is tender.

Barbara Bowman graduated with degree in Foods and Nutrition from San Jose State University. As CEO of she spends most waking hours writing, cooking, eating, gardening and traveling.