How to Select Broccoli Rabe
- Select broccoli rabe with green stems that are small and firm with compact heads.
- Select florets that are closed and a dark shade of green, similar to conventional broccoli. Avoid any that are open or yellow.
- Select broccoli rabe that is free from wilting. Avoid any that are wilted, yellowed, or slimy.
When is Broccoli Rabe in Season?
Broccoli Rabe is a popular, fine-dining farm-to-table green served at many restaurants. A cool-weather vegetable, broccoli rabe is best in the fall through early spring. The warmer the weather, the more bitter the leafy vegetable will taste. When picking broccoli rabe, you want to look for a small, firm stem with dark green florets and leaves. The florets will become yellow with age.
Varieties of Broccoli Rabe
Part of the Brassica vegetable family, broccoli rabe is known for its long thin stalks, many leaves, and small florets. It almost looks like kale more than broccoli and is closer in flavor to a turnip. It has a bitter flavor like turnips with a touch of sweetness like broccoli, making it a unique and acquired taste.
There are 21 varieties of broccoli rabe, but we will focus on the most common:
- Quarantina: A fast-harvesting variety of broccoli rabe that is popular among farmers. It can be more bitter than other varieties.
- Spring Raab: A more heat-tolerant variety, spring raab is best planted in spring and has a milder bitterness.
- Zamboni: A heat-tolerant variety that has a longer growing season, so it’s best in the early fall.
- Riccia di S. Marzano: A unique variety with curly leaves similar to kale. It is trickier to grow but has a great flavor that foodies love.
Broccoli Rabe Nutrition Facts & Benefits
A nutrient-rich vegetable, broccoli rabe has many health benefits:
Serving size: 1 cup
Approximate 8.8 calories
- 0.2 grams of fat
- 1.3 grams of protein
- 1.1 grams of carbohydrates
- 0.15 grams of natural sugar
- 1.1 grams of fiber
A few key health benefits of broccoli rabe::
- Broccoli rabe has about 8% of your daily value for folate, which can reduce neural tube defects.
- Broccoli rabe is high in Vitamin K (75% of the daily recommended value), which improves cognitive function and heart and bone health.
- Brassica vegetables, including broccoli rabe, contain antioxidant compounds that protect against free radicals and reduce cancer risk.
Nutrient-rich, broccoli rabe is high in potassium which regulates blood pressure.
How to Store Broccoli Rabe
How To Store Fresh Broccoli Rabe: If possible, serve broccoli rabe as fresh as possible – it wilts quickly. If you are growing your own, harvest and gently wash it right before serving your meal. Store fresh broccoli rabe by wrapping it in plastic or a wet towel. Refrigerate it unwashed in your crisper drawer. Broccoli rabe will keep in this manner for up to 5 days.
How To Freeze Broccoli Rabe: Cut off any roots and thick stems and remove yellowed or wilted leaves. Rinse and chop leaves and florets. Boil broccoli rabe for 2 minutes, then immediately place in cold water for 30 seconds. Drain in a colander and place in a plastic freezer bag, squeezing out as much air and moisture as possible, then store it in the freezer. Frozen broccoli rabe will keep for up to 6 months.
How to Prepare Broccoli Rabe
When storing your broccoli rabe, don’t wash it until you are ready to eat. Keep it fresh in your fridge. How to prepare broccoli rabe::
- Raw: Rinse in cold water, then chop the leaves, florets, and stem into bite-size chunks and enjoy as a bitter, sweet salad.
- Blanched: Add the broccoli rabe to a pot of boiling water for one minute, then remove, chop and eat.
- Sauteed: Rinse the broccoli rabe and then chop. Add olive oil to your pan, and toss the broccoli rabe into the pan. Season the broccoli rabe with salt, pepper, and a splash of lemon. Cook over medium heat until desired tenderness.
Steamed: Steamed is actually the best way to prepare broccoli because it maintains most of the nutrients. To steam, you can do it over boiling water on the stovetop or quickly steam it in the microwave.