Rapini, commonly marketed as broccoli raab or broccoli rabe, is a green cruciferous vegetable. The edible parts are the leaves, buds, and stems. The buds somewhat resemble broccoli, but do not form a large head.
Rapini is known for its slightly bitter taste, and is particularly associated with Italian (as ‘cime di rapa’ or ‘friarielli’), Galician, and Portuguese (as ‘grelos’) cuisines. Within the Italian tradition, the plant is associated especially with southern Italian cuisines such as those of Naples, Campania, and Apulia.
Rapini needs little more than a trim at the base. The entire stalk is edible, although it may become more fibrous depending on the season.
- In Europe, rapini is widely used in southern Italian cuisine (in particular Basilicata, Apulia, Campania, and Sicily), in Roman cuisine, in northern Portuguese cuisine and in that of Galicia.
- In southern Lazio, Frosinone, Ciociaria, it is usually sauteed with garlic and chilli pepper, and served with sausages and fresh baked bread so as to make a sandwich. In the Central Italy regions, rapini sautéed with garlic, chilli pepper and guanciale can be a side dish for porchetta, grilled pork ribs, sausages and other pork dishes. In Apulia, its most famous use is in “orecchiette”.
- One common method of preparation includes boiling the rapini in boiling saltwater before sautéeing in olive oil with garlic and chilli pepper.
- Blanching is a common first step for preparation, after which rapini may be cooked in various ways, including sautéing, grilling, or roasting.
- In the United States, rapini is popular in Italian-American kitchens, particularly in southern New England, where it is a common filling for submarine sandwiches and a component of pasta dishes, especially when accompanied by Italian sausage.