February in the Kitchen – Broccoli Raab a la Jane Grigson

Like my recent posting of grilled asparagus, this post is the basic method for cooking broccoli raab, also sometimes called broccoletti di rape, or rapini. It has multiple names, including rapine, rappi, rappje, turnip broccoli, tailcat, Italian or chicness broccoli, broccoli de rabe, Italtiona turnip, and turnip broccoli. Whew!

Broccoli raab is allotted only one recipe in “Jane Grigson’s Vegetable Book” published in the 1970’s. Until recently it was fairly uncommon in both the UK and the US. I found her recipe under the section on turnips (and swedes?) with whom they are closely related. She recommended serving them cool with a lemon and olive oil vinaigrette, or hot in a similar way as the recipe below. I’m currently exploring the cookbook as part of an on-line cookbook book club (say that 10 times quickly!). You can read more posts inspired by the book on the website The Cookbook Guru.

Jane Grigson's Vegetable Book

Jane Grigson’s Vegetable Book

This vegetable originates in the Mediterranean and China. It is a descendant from a wild herb and is found growing wild (as well as cultivated) in California, Arizona, New Jersey, Quebec and Ontario. Among the Chinese it is one of their most popular vegetables. Broccoli raab is grown as much for its long-standing, tasty, mustard like tops as for its multiple small florets.

Broccoli raab

Broccoli raab

Broccoli raab is a rich source of vitamins A, C, and K, as well as potassium. It tastes a bit like broccoli but is more pungent with a nutty flavor and a slightly bitter taste.

When buying it at the grocers look for bright green leaves that are crisp and upright, not yellowed or wilted. Unlike broccoli you do not need to peel the stems. If the stems are large, start by sautéing them for a few minutes before adding the leaves to the pan. That will allow them to soften a bit.

Broccoli raab

Broccoli raab

How to Cook Broccoli Raab or Rapini

You can cook the leaves, stems and flower heads like broccoli (broil, stir-fry, braise, sauté, or steam). My preference is to blanch them briefly in boiling water (1-2 minutes) and then sauté with thinly sliced garlic and a chopped shallot, finishing with a couple of finely chopped anchovies or a teaspoon of anchovy paste seems to really fill out the umami flavor (a few dried red pepper flakes can also give a punch).

  1. Rinse and trim 1/4-inch from bottom of stems.
  2. Cut stalks crosswise into 2-inch pieces and drop them into salted (optional), boiling water.
  3. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes and remove with slotted spoon. Drain.
  4. Heat 3 or 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet.
  5. Add 2 thinly sliced garlic cloves and a finely chopped shallot; turn the heat down to medium and sauté for 3 to 5 minutes until softened. Be careful not to burn the garlic or it will turn bitter.
  6. Add the blanched broccoli raab/rapini to the skillet and continue to sauté for another 5 minutes until cooked. If the stalks were large, add and cook for a few minutes before adding the leaves.
  7. Optional – Add 2-3 finely chopped anchovies and a few dried red pepper flakes.
Broccoli Raab

Sauteed Broccoli Raab

You could also toss the finished broccoli raab with some pasta and top with freshly grated parmesan. It’s delicious that way.

7 thoughts on “February in the Kitchen – Broccoli Raab a la Jane Grigson

  1. Liz the thing I love about the way Grigson prepares veg is that she lets the true flavours shine rather than masking them with sauces and seasonings. This looks like green veg heaven..

  2. Reblogged this on The Cookbook Guru and commented:
    Delving into the world of green, Liz has shared a delightful and interesting post about Broccoli Raab drawing on Jane Grigson’s Vegetable Book. Make sure you check it out.

    Happy Reading and Happy Cooking


  3. Thanks for linking up at our Gluten Free Fridays Party! I have tweeted and pinned your entry to our Gluten Free Fridays board on Pinterest! 🙂 I can’t wait to see what you share next time!

    • Hello Glenda, it has been a new one for me as well until recently. This fall I planted it into the garden and it has done well. I think it’s much better picked young with smaller stems.

      It’s very popular in Italy and I’ve seen lots of recipes for using it with pasta.

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