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Broccoli Raab: A Better Bitter

Fine Cooking Issue 71
Photo: Scott Phillips
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Broccoli raab, rapini, broccoli rabe, broccoli rape, brocoletti di rape, brocoletto—all those are names for a vegetable that looks like turnip greens topped with small broccoli florets. Native to the Mediterranean and related to both turnips and broccoli, this may be the plant from which the more familiar broccoli was cultivated. For some people, broccoli raab’s bitter, peppery flavor takes getting used to, but for those who like bitter flavors, it can be addictive.

If you want to try broccoli raab, check out the recipe for Campanelle with Broccoli Raab, Sausage & Olives. Look for bunches of broccoli raab that show no signs of wilting or yellowing. Rinse well and trim off the lower, thicker stalks. Broccoli raab cooks quickly—it gets tender in about three minutes. Steaming, sautéing, braising, and stir-frying are all good ways to cook broccoli raab, but to cut some of the bitterness, blanch it first in boiling water for a minute or two. If you’d like to improvise with broccoli raab, combine it with other assertive ingredients like sausages, hot peppers, olives, garlic, and lemon, or mellow it with sweet, soothing foods like cream, caramelized onions, or beans.

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