Vendredi Vocab: Broccoli Rabe

BroccoliRabe-1-of-2Image source

broccoli rabe [RAHB] A vegetable related to both the cabbage and the turnip family, the leafy green broccoli raab has 6- to 9-inch stalks and scattered clusters of tiny broccoli like buds. It’s also called American gai lan, brocoletti di rape, Italian broccoli, rage, rape and rapine. The greens have a pungent, bitter flavor that is not particularly popular in America where, more often than not, they’re used as animal fodder. Italians are particularly fond of broccoli raab, however, and cook it in a variety of ways including frying, steaming and braising. It can also be used in soups or salads. Broccoli rabe should be wrapped in a plastic bag and refrigerated for no more than 5 days.

The New Food Lover’s Companion, page 104

I found it particularly interesting that, while the small buds on broccoli rabe, also commonly called “rapini,” resemble broccoli, the vegetable is actually more closely related to the turnip. With that name, who would have thought?! The vegetable is most popular in Southern Italian and Roman cuisine, as well as Galician and Portuguese.

The vegetable has many spiked leaves that surround clusters of green buds that resemble small heads of broccoli. Small, edible yellow flowers may be blooming among the buds. The flavor of rapini has been described as nutty, bitter, and pungent. Rapini is a source of vitamins A, C, and K, as well as potassium, calcium, and iron.


We are currently seeing broccoli rabe on our menu as a part of this week’s Bistro Plat du Jour, three-course menu. I love how the slight bitterness of the broccoli rabe compliments the nuttiness of the roasted winter squash and the richness of the grilled pork chop. It’s given the perfect amount of heat with chili flakes and cool, fresh mint to balance it all out.

IMG_4007-2This week’s Bistro Menu main course: Grilled Pork Chop, with roasted winter squash, chili, mint & broccoli rabe.


Vendredi means “Friday” in French. Each week we add something new to our culinary vocabulary by delving into a word from our menu. We love food, we love words, and we love to learn something new. We also love Fridays.

Happy Vendredi, everyone!

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