Rapini or Broccoli Rabe
Care of Amy Symington
It’s not quite spinach; it’s not quite broccoli, but it’s a helluva tasty and just as good for you as both!
Contrary to its appearance, rapini is actually a cousin of the turnip and is called “cime di rapa,” in Italian which literally meaning “turnip tops.” It is a green cruciferous vegetable, which has similar health benefits to other cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, kale and cabbage. The leaves, buds and stems are all edible and rich in vitamin A, B, C, and K as well as iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc.
It is also filled to the brim with cancer fighting phytochemicals like indole-3-carbonol which can aid in the prevention of cellular damage from free radicals. It contains sulphuric compounds which, in addition to decreasing inflammation and toxins in our bodies, can also help to reduce one’s risk of heart disease. Moreover, its vitamin C and folate content decrease homocysteine, an amino acid that can be found in our arteries, and if found in excess can lead to heart disease. Due to its high vitamin K and calcium content, rapini scores big points in the maintaining strong and healthy bones department too. It’s also high in antioxidants like lutein, which is great for our eye sight and for the prevention of macular degeneration.
On top of all of this, rapini is fibre rich and low on the glycemic index, which can improve our cholesterol and stabilize our blood sugar levels!
Rapini is notorious for its slightly bitter flavour, but if steamed or blanched prior to lightly pan searing or frying, the bitterness will dissipate and its sweetness with be enhanced. Use it in casseroles, curries, stir-frys, soups, salads or as a side, all on its own.