This is rapini…or broccoli rabe…or broccoletti…or
about a thousand many other names which would tend to have you believe that this lovely green vegetable comes from the broccoli family. But it doesn’t! In fact, rapini (that’s what we like to call it around here) is in the mustard family and a member of the Brassica rapa species, in the subspecies rapa…the same subspecies where you would find turnip! Bet you didn’t see that coming! In fact, once you taste rapini, it’s relation to turnip is not that surprising; both have a peppery bite and a bitterness that is not at all unpleasant when the vegetable is prepared properly.
Rapini’s vibrant green colour is showcased in leaves which look almost spiked (they are not sharp…don’t worry) and little buds which resemble adorable broccoli heads. Occasionally you may find little yellow flowers within this mess of beautiful green-ness. No worries, those are edible too, and simply indicate that the rapini you are about to eat was mid-bloom. Keep in mind however that if your rapini has begun to bolt (that means flowering, for those of you, like us, who are not botanically inclined) it will likely be more bitter than if it were pre-bolt (we’re pretty sure that is not actually a term…but you know what we mean).
One of the best things about rapini is not only how easy it is to prepare, but how absolutely delicious and nutritious it is. For very few calories you get a dish which is full of vitamins, particularly vitamins A and C. Many days, this rapini recipe makes for a delicious side dish, but just as often it becomes a meal in itself, served with a bit of bread and hummus for some added protein.
When choosing your rapini in the market make sure that the leaves are vibrant, green and fresh looking, with no wilted or yellow leaves mixed in. Any little broccoli heads should be equally fresh looking.
If you are not going to be eating the rapini right after you cook it, then we suggest you hold off from adding the lemon juice. If you do add the lemon juice and then let the rapini sit for too long, you can end up with off-coloured rapini. You can add the olive oil right after it is cooked however, even if you plan to serve it hours later, or even the next day.
Mia Kouppa: Rapini
- 1 bunch rapini
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- juice of one lemon
- salt to taste
- Wash the rapini well and cut the entire bunch in half, mid-way through the stalk.
- Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add 1 teaspoon salt to the water. When the water is boiling add the rapini and cook, covered, over medium heat for approximately 10 minutes.
- Drain well and rinse with cold water.
- Serve with freshly squeezed lemon juice and olive oil drizzled over the rapini.