TRY SOMETHING GREEN AND NUTRITIOUS FROM THE PRODUCE SECTION CALLED RAPINI
Today, I want to talk about Italian Rapini also known as Broccoli Rabe (Broccoli Rob) or Broccoli Raab depending on where you buy it.
In Canada we call it Italian Rapini which is how you will find it at the grocery store. You may have picked it up, stared at it and wondered what on earth rapini was, what it tastes like and how to prepare it and today you’ll find out.
Almost all major grocery stores in Canada should carry Italian rapini and should be used with-in 4 to 5 days after bringing it home or harvesting it from your garden.
Store in your refrigerator crisper wrapped in paper towel.
What is Italian Rapini?
Italian Rapini pronounced RA-PEE-NEE or scientifically Brassica Rapa well known in Southern Italy, Portugal and China.
Rapini is a green cruciferous vegetable in the mustard family comparable to spinach with a mixture of broccoli so you get the best of both green worlds. Rapini is similar to the turnip than it is broccoli even though there are distinct similarities.
It really is unique and full of flavour if prepared properly or as we like to enjoy it the Classic Italian Rapini recipe way.
Alert– Rapini and garlic go hand-in-hand and are a must whenever preparing a dish.
In the Italian Rapini (Broccoli Rabe) family there is also Broccoli and Broccolini which are all similar in tastes but just a bit different.
Everyone knows what broccoli is as it’s a staple in many Canadian diets. You either love it, hate it or smother it in cream sauce.
What is broccolini?
Broccolini is a hybrid of broccoli and kale and has smaller flowers and longer stalks.
It is a natural hybrid of broccoli and gai lan (jie lan in mandarin Chinese; sometimes referred to as “Chinese Kale” or “Chinese Broccoli”), both cultivar groups of Brassica oleracea.
Broccolini has a similar structure to sprouting type broccoli. It grows to 80 centimeters, with a slender elongated stem that is 15–30 centimeters long. It is annual or biennial, herbaceous and glaucous.
Rapini is hugely popular in Italy and China where it is a member of the turnip family with delicious edible parts.
The stalk, leaves and flowers are very bitter so essential ingredients such as garlic, salt, onions and red pepper flakes add a wonderful burst of flavour to rapini.
Can you eat Italian rapini raw?
Not really as it is so bitter you’ll probably want to spit it out but no harm in trying, you might like it.
How do you get the bitterness out of Italian rapini?
You prepare the rapini as I am going to show you today and add in delicious spices and oil to bring out the natural flavours.
The rapini season is most definitely during the Spring, summer and Fall months in Canada where you will often find it on sale for $1.99.
Currently in Ontario the price per bunch has jumped to near $5.00. Most often one bunch won’t do when you cook rapini up because you’ll need at least 3 to get a good amount of sautéed rapini.
Italian Rapini Nutrition
Rapini is very healthy and offers 25 calories per cup and is perfect for a low-carb, keto diet registering at 2.85 carbs per 100 grams of raw rapini and 2.7 grams of fibre.
Italian Rapini is loaded with Vitamin C, Vitamin A and Folate which makes it extremely nutritious and strong anti-inflammatory nutrients for the body.
That means the net carbs for eating rapini is little to none which makes it one of the best keto vegetables to add to your grocery shopping list.
How to clean Rapini? (Broccoli Rabe)
Before you purchase your rapini at the grocery store always inspect what you buy. You’ll want to find the greenest rapini as possible and avoid bunches that have yellowing leaves.
In fact, if you do see some with yellowing leaves ask your produce employee for a discount and you may end up scoring a deal.
Start by trimming off the bottom stalk and if there are any yellow leaves just remove them. That’s it. Clean the rapini under cold water to clean any dirt from them before blanching.
How to cook Italian rapini
After you clean the rapini fill a large pot with cold water and add salt to it. From there bring the water to a medium boil and add your raw rapini and push down with a long wooden spoon.
We typically blanche the rapini until the stalk and stems are cooked through and then strain it followed by either a cold water bath or ice bath. Personally, the cold water bath works fine and saves time.
Once the rapini is cooled we squish the be-jeepers out of it so there is no water left in it. You will want to get rid of the moisture before cooking it so it will definitely take some elbow grease.
For the Classic Italian Rapini recipe heat a large frying pan with some good extra virgin olive oil, chopped organic garlic, white onion and then your squeezed rapini.
After a minute or so you can add red pepper flakes and salt to taste but if you’re not a fan of the heat of peppers you can leave them out and it tastes just as amazing.
If you’re not an onion fan you can leave them out too but the garlic, salt and olive oil you’ll miss.
If you’re not in the mood to cook your blanched rapini you can store it in a container or freezer bag up to 3 months.
So, if you find a good deal on rapini get ready for a blanching fest in your kitchen.
What can I make with Rapini?
I’ll tell you what we like to do with our cooked rapini because I feel it is the only way to describe the beauty of this green vegetable.
The very first thing we like to do with this easy Rapini recipe is to snuggle it in-between two fresh slices of bread or as a side-dish.
If you are keto then using keto bread is an easy alternative.
Italian Rapini salad is SO GOOD and easy to make by using cold prepared rapini adding a bit of extra-virgin olive oil and a good red wine vinegar, fresh chopped garlic and salt. That’s it. Delicious.
Italian Rapini and pasta is a huge hit in Italy because it’s fast and easy to make and inexpensive. Prepare your rapini and add it to buttered Italian pastas such as orecchiette, penne, fussili.
Really, any Italian pasta will do. If you are on a Keto Diet try using Konjac noodles or Nu Pasta Noodles both are equally delicious in soups and pastas.
How to make Classic Italian Rapini
- 3 bunches or 1lb of raw rapini
- 1 teaspoon salt for pot of water
- 6 cloves of organic garlic minced
- 1 teaspoons of salt
- 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup minced onions
- 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
- In a large pot fill with ½ way with cold water and 1 teaspoon of salt
- Bring to a rolling boil and add your raw, cleaned and washed rapini. (see post above for cleaning instructions)
- After 10 minutes if the stalks are tender you can remove the rapini and drain in a strainer
- Cover with cold running water to cool down and retain the green colour or set the bowl into an ice-bath.
- Once cooled form a ball with the cooked rapini and squeeze all of the water out. Do this until you no longer and squeeze any water from it or very little is left.
- In a large frying pan on medium to high heat at your extra virgin olive oil, minced garlic and white onions. Once they start to colour add your rapini which you will have to break apart with a wooden spoon in the frying pan.
- Saute the rapini until it is warmed through and then add red pepper flakes near the end.
- Add salt and pepper to your preference.
Enjoy this easy to make Classic Italian Rapini recipe and let me know what you think.
Discussion: If you’ve tried rapini before leave me a comment below how you like to enjoy eating it. I always like new food ideas.