Broccoli Rabe has an appearance somewhat resembling regular broccoli, but it is actually more close related to turnips and, indeed, in norther Italy, it’s name ‘cime de rapa’ means ‘turnip tops’. Outside of North America, it is also known as ‘Rapini’.
Sometime ago, I did a post featuring Broccolini and I described it as being something of a cross between Broccoli and Gai Lan. Broccoli Rabe, however, is, in my opinion, more like a cross between broccoli and kale. In addtion to being much leafier than regular broccoli, it also has a much stronger bitterness than broccoli. I don’t find regular broccoli all that bitter myself but some people do and I rather suspect they won’t be all that partial to this particular green…
I typically get several uses from any vegetable I buy and, as with most greens, I like to blanch them before stroing them in the fridge. Here, you can see how the lovely green color is enhanced after a quick blanching, and this lasts for many days in a closed container in the fridge, surviving through cooking as long as the cooking time is relatively short.
I will probably get three, maybe four dishes from the bunch I purchased and the first one I did was a variation on the well-known Chinese restaurant classic ‘Beef with broccoli in Oyster Sauce’. The ‘oyster sauce’ used here is actually a version I made myself using shrimp stock instead of oysters. It, unintentionally’ turned out a bit sweeter than the usual product and that sweetness played off on the bitterness of the broccoli rabe quite well. A common method of serving the vegetable is to quickly boil it and then saute it with garlic and chili pepper… I may try that next.