Rapini, also known as Broccoli Rabe, is a cool season turnip plant with no bulb development. It should be harvested before florets form and flowers bolt. It has roughly textured, spiked, green leaves that have a pungent almost bitter flavor that mellows and becomes almost nutty when cooked. In fact, it is referred to as a “cooking green”.
Available year-round, Rapini’s peak season is from late fall through early spring.
Cooking is the first step in taming this bitter green and softening its texture. It is best suited for wilting by steaming, blanching or slow simmering and adding it to baked dishes and pastas. Rapini benefits greatly from three simple additions: salt, fat and spice. It pairs well with rich creamy sauces, bacon, parmesan, olive oil, lemon and garlic.