Broccoli Rabe: Broccoli's Bolder Cousin

A centuries-old staple in Italian and Chinese cuisine, broccoli rabe (pronounced "rob") is gaining popularity on the American plate. Despite its name, this dark leafy green is actually a closer relative of the turnip family than broccoli, originally cultivated in the Mediterranean and in China. Broccoli and broccoli rabe look similar, but broccoli rabe's ruffled leaves and tiny florets have a softer look that's countered by a bitter flavor more reminiscent of kale than broccoli.

Its nutritional value is just as bold as its flavor. A one-cup serving has only 9 calories but provides more than 100% of our need of vitamin K and a very high % of vitamins A and C, folate, iron and calcium. Broccoli rabe has cancer-preventing properties due to bioactive compounds called sulforaphanes. These phytonutrients may protect against cancers of the stomach, lung, esophagus, colon and breast. Broccoli rabe also contains lutein, a phytonutrient that protects the retina of the eye from oxidative damage and may slow progression of macular degeneration and cataracts.

The finer points - The tough stem bottoms are easily removed before cooking. Blanching what's left for one minute in boiling water will reduce the bitterness considerably. Enjoy broccoli rabe steamed, sautéed, stir-fried or braised, just as with any greens. It combines well with pasta and rice, especially in Asian and Italian dishes.

Broccoli Rabe Sauté


  • 2 bunches broccoli rabe
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • ¼ cup sundried tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Pinch sea salt
  • 2 tbsp pine nuts, toasted


  1. In a large pot, bring slightly salted water to boil. Trim bottom 1-2 inches from rabe stems. When water is boiling, add broccoli rabe for 1 minute, drain, and set aside.
  2. Heat olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and sauté until golden. Add broccoli rabe and sundried tomatoes to pan and toss to coat, about 2-3 minutes.
  3. Season lightly with salt and pepper as desired and top with toasted pine nuts.

Makes 6 servings.
Contains: 124 calories, 4 grams of fiber per serving

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