As was mentioned in a previous post, broccoli rabe (pronounced rob) is one vegetable that has more aliases than Jennifer Garner. Often referred to as rapini, rappa, Italian turnip, fall and spring rabe, and broccoli de rape, the one thing this vegetable can’t be confused for is broccoli itself!
As a member of the brassica family, broccoli rabe is most closely related to cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, rutabaga and turnips and even has some ties to the mustard family.
Much like its relatives, broccoli rabe is a great source of folate, which is important in fetal development and may also reduce the risk of cancer, especially tumors of the colon, breast, cervix and lung. When combined with vitamins B6 and B12, as is the case in broccoli rabe, folate can also lower the risk of heart disease and stroke. In addition, broccoli rabe touts high levels of vitamin K and magnesium, which is integral for bone development and repair.
Still not convinced? Broccoli rabe is also an excellent source of the phytochemical indole-3-carbinol – which aids in estrogen metabolism and is linked to a reduction in the risk of hormone-dependent cancers including those of the prostate and breast – and Sulforaphane, which helps neutralize carcinogenic chemicals and detoxify the body.
Available year round, choose broccoli rabe that has thin stalks, bright green leaves and few, if any, open flowers. To prepare, rinse well in cold water, then remove the tougher part of the lower stem. The rabe can then be blanched, steamed, boiled, sautéed or simmered at low temperature before being added to omelets or quiches. Brocolli rabe is also excellent when served alone as a side dish, especially when sprinkled with vinaigrette or topped with a high-quality parmesan cheese.