Keto Dishes | Side Dishes | Vegetarian

Classic Italian Rapini (Broccoli Rabe) Recipe (Keto, Low-Carb)

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tasty classic italian rapini broccoli rabe recipe
Classic Italian Rapini

Try Something Green And Nutrtrious 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 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 it should be used within 4 to 5 days after bringing it home or harvesting it from your garden.

Store in your refrigerator crisper wrapped in a paper towel.

What is Italian Rapini?

classic 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 more similar to the turnip than broccoli, even though there are distinct similarities.

It is unique and full of flavor if prepared correctly 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.

The Italian Rapini (Broccoli Rabe) family also has Broccoli and Broccolini, all similar in taste but just a bit different.

Everyone knows what broccoli is, as it’s a staple in many Canadian diets. You either love, hate, or smother it in cream sauce.

What is broccolini?

Broccolini is a broccoli and kale hybrid with 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.

You may also know rapini as calabrese or Italian broccoli, but it’s the same thing, rapini.

The rapini stalk, leaves, and flowers are bitter, so essential ingredients such as garlic, salt, onions, and red pepper flakes help shape the flavor.

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.

If you’re smart you won’t try to use the rapini water to make any type of broth because it’s bitter.

How do you get the bitterness out of Italian rapini?

As I will show you today, prepare the rapini and add delicious spices and oil to bring out the natural flavors.

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.

Related: Ontario Fall Fruits and Vegetables List for your Budget

In Ontario, the price per bunch has jumped to nearly $5.00 and rarely goes on sale.

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 Sauteed

Rapini is very healthy, 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 fiber.

Italian Rapini is loaded with Vitamin C, A, and Folate, making it highly nutritious and strong anti-inflammatory nutrients for the body.

That means the net carbs for eating rapini are little to none, making it one of the best keto vegetables to add to your grocery shopping list.

How to clean Rapini? (Broccoli Rabe)

classic italian rapini recipe fb

Before you purchase your rapini at the grocery store, always inspect what you buy.

You’ll want to find the greenest rapini possible and avoid bunches with yellowing leaves.

If you see some with yellowing leaves, ask your produce employee for a discount, and you may score a deal.

Start by trimming off the bottom stalk, and if there are any yellow leaves, 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.

From there, bring the water to a medium boil, 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 an 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.

You will want to get rid of the moisture before cooking it so it will take some elbow grease.

Heat a large frying pan with extra virgin olive oil, chopped organic garlic, white onion, and then your squeezed rapini for the Classic Italian Rapini recipe.

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 impressive.

If you’re not an onion fan, you can leave them out too, but you’ll miss the garlic, salt, and olive oil.

If you’re not ready to cook your blanched rapini, you can store it in a container or freezer bag for up to 3 months.

So, if you find a good deal on rapini, prepare for a blanching fest in your kitchen.

What can I make with Rapini?

classic Italian 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 first thing we like to do with this easy Rapini recipe is snuggled it 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, good red wine vinegar, fresh chopped garlic, and salt.

That’s it. Delicious.

Rapini Pasta Frittata
Rapini Pasta Frittata

Italian Rapini and pasta is a massive 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.

Try: Mr. CBB’s Shrimp and Rapini Pasta

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 pasta.

Rapini Pasta Frittata is also a big Italian hit in Italy and tastes delicious hot or cold.

I love taking it in my lunch for work.

Store in your refrigerator crisper wrapped in a paper towel.

How To Make Classic Italian Rapini

Recipe Type: Side-Dish

Cuisine: Italian

Author: Mr.CBB

Prep time: 30 mins

Cook time: 10 mins

Total time: 40 mins

Serves: 6

The perfect Keto Side-Dish is full of nutrition and easy to make. You can buy rapini, also known as Broccoli Rabe, in bulk bunches when it is on sale and freeze it for up to 3 months after blanching it. Simple and delicious.


  • 3 bunches or 1lb of raw rapini
  • 1 teaspoon salt for the pot of water
  • 6 cloves of organic garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup minced onions
  • 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes


  1. In a large pot, fill 1/2 way with cold water and one teaspoon of salt
  2. Bring to a rolling boil and add your raw, cleaned, and washed rapini. (see post above for cleaning instructions)
  3. After 10 minutes, if the stalks are tender, you can remove the rapini and drain in a strainer
  4. Cover with cold running water to cool down and retain the green color, or set the bowl into an ice bath.
  5. Once cooled, form a ball with the cooked rapini and squeeze the water out. Do this until you no longer squeeze any water from it or very little is left.
  6. In a large frying pan on medium to high heat, add virgin olive oil, minced garlic, and white onions. Once they start to color, add your rapini, which you will have to break apart with a wooden spoon in the frying pan.
  7. Saute the rapini until it is warmed through and then add red pepper flakes near the end.
  8. 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 about how you like to enjoy eating it. I always like new food ideas.


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