Rapini goes by many names, such as broccoli rabe, rabe, American gai lan, and Italian broccoli. Related to both the cabbage and turnip family, it is a leafy and bitter green with broccoli-like buds and longer stems (typically six to nine-inch stalks).
Very popular in Italian and Asian cuisine, its slight bitterness pairs well with rich, slow cooked meals because it helps to cleanse the palate. This green is often blanched in boiling, salted water to help tame its bitterness. It has a flavour that is nutty, bitter, pungent, and definitely an acquired taste.
You can add rapini to soup, stews, or sauté with olive oil and garlic. For a special treat, use as a topping for crostini, pasta, or on a decadent porchetta sandwich.
How To Pick Rapini:
Rapini has long and thin deep green stems with scattered clusters of broccoli-like buds. Make sure the leaves and stems are a bright green, with tight heads of green florets. They should not be wilted or yellow in colour.
How To Store Rapini:
Rapini should be wrapped in a plastic bag and can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. However, it’s best to use it right away.
How To Prepare Rapini:
Rinse rapini well under cold water and trim any wilted or yellowing leaves. The outer stem of rapini can be tough, just like the end of an asparagus stalk.
Here are a couple of ways you can prepare rapini:
First, rinse and trim ¼-inch from bottom of the stems. Then,
- With a small knife, remove the first big leaf, then peel the stalk if it’s really tough. Here’s a great video: how to trim and peel rapini
- With a small knife, slice the stem in half lengthwise – this will help to cook the thick stem at the same rate as the leafy greens and florets.
- Cut into two-inch-long pieces.
- Once you’ve prepped rapini, it can be boiled, sautéed, braised, steamed, grilled, stir-fried or roasted.
Rapini is best when blanched in well-salted boiling water before being sautéed with other ingredients – this helps to tame the bitterness. But if you like bitter, than there’s no need to blanch.
Kary’s Rapini Tips:
- If bitter isn’t quite to your taste, then blanch the cleaned and trimmed broccoli rabe in salted boiling water for about a minute to lower its intensity. However, if you have a palate for bitterness, no need to blanch.
- Rapini can be blanched a few days before you’re ready to use it, especially if it’s about to spoil. Blanched rapini will stay good in the fridge for up to five days.
- You can make a quick side with the blanched rapini by sautéing it, or try adding it to a grilled cheese sandwich, calzone, pasta, pizza, or a breakfast frittata.
- When is rapini done cooking? When you can insert a thin sharp knife into the thickest part of the stem.
- Rapini goes very well with chicken stock. For a change, blanch rapini in chicken stock, and then use the leftover stock to make soup or gravy.
- Try filling a toasted Kaiser with sautéed rapini, roasted peppers, olive oil and a ricotta cheese – delish!
What Does Rapini Go Well With?
Rapini Goes Well With: Almonds, anchovies, basil, butter, cheese, chicken, chickpeas, chilies, garlic, fish, lemon, oregano, pasta, pepper, pork, red pepper flakes, sausage and chicken stock.
Rapini Flavour Combos:
+ olive oil + garlic
+ sausage + garlic
+ red pepper flakes + garlic + anchovies + olive oil
+ olive oil + lemon + garlic + Parmesan cheese