What Does Broccoli Rabe Taste Like?

In this article, we'll be discussing broccoli rabe. We'll tell you all about the taste and texture, how to eat it and what to do with it in your recipes.

Homemade Sauteed Green Broccoli Rabe with Garlic and Nuts

Let's get started...

What Does Broccoli Rabe Taste Like? 

Broccoli rabe, or rapini as it's officially called, is a cruciferous veggie like kale, Brussels sprouts and broccoli, the vegetable it looks like a miniature version of. 

While broccoli rabe does taste a lot like broccoli, it's much more bitter, and some people also detect a nuttiness. Cooking it will reduce its strong flavor, but it won't cut out the bitterness. However, this is a trait many people enjoy, just like they do in kale and other bitter greens.

Broccoli Rabe Texture 

If you've ever chomped on a piece of raw or lightly cooked broccoli, you may have found it fibrous and a little tough. Broccoli rabe is not so dense. It's softer and easier to chew.

It's also a rather crisp vegetable, even when cooked. It's true that it will get very soft, even mushy if cooked long enough, but this is great for certain dishes like soups. 

Do You Eat the Leaves on Broccoli Rabe? 

You don't have to eat the leaves if you don't want to, but they're soft and perfectly edible. In fact, they're usually enjoyed with the whole vegetable, along with the stem and head. 

You may also remove the leaves and cook them separately. In this case, you would use them as you would any other bitter green, whether in a stir-fry, a pasta dish or even a wilted salad.

How Do You Get Rid of the Bitter Taste in Broccoli Rabe? 

That bitterness can be a lot to handle. If you have a particularly strong bunch of broccoli rabe, you can reduce the pungency with some simple ingredients you probably already have on hand.

Some salt and a little lemon juice or vinegar will take care of a fair amount of the offending flavor. Simply add these while you're sauteing with some garlic. 

A quick toss in a pot of salted water to blanch for a minute or two can also do wonders for the flavor of broccoli rabe. Just make sure the water is salted as the salt does half the job.

Can You Eat Broccoli Rabe Raw? 

Broccoli rabe is probably more commonly cooked, but it can also be eaten raw. More mature broccoli rabe may be too potent to be eaten this way (unless you enjoy the taste).

Look for younger, smaller stalks if you want to eat them fresh. The leaves of broccoli rabe are particularly suited to salads, so you may want to try these raw first. 

Broccoli Rabe Serving Tips 

If you're interested in seeing what you can do with cooked broccoli rabe, watch these videos. They'll help you get an idea of the kinds of everyday (and party) dishes it pairs perfectly with.

This video will show you how to make a fabulous appetizer for your next big get-together: miso mushroom and rapini saute on top of crostini. (Note that the chef uses dairy parmesan—just replace this with vegan parmesan.)

Here are the ingredients:

  • Crusty bread
  • Garlic
  • Mushrooms
  • Broccoli rabe
  • Lemon
  • White miso
  • Fresh herbs like thyme
  • Chili flakes
  • Vegan parmesan
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

This is a recipe for broccoli rabe stuffed peppers with vegan ricotta. The sweetness of the roasted peppers, the creaminess of the vegan ricotta and the sharpness of the broccoli rabe just melt together. You can buy vegan ricotta or try making your own from cashews or the nuts or seeds of your choice.

Here's what you need for these stuffed peppers:

  • Broccoli rabe
  • Bell peppers
  • Vegan ricotta
  • Fresh basil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil

Wrap Up

Broccoli rabe looks a lot like broccoli, but it's more bitter. Sauteing with garlic, salt and lemon juice or vinegar will reduce the bitterness and leave a lovely, crisp bite. Try adding broccoli rabe to stuffed peppers or on top ssof vegan pizza for a real Italian treat.

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