Although broccoli and broccoli rabe are similarly named and are both rich in vitamins and nutrients, the two vegetables don't share many more commonalities. Not only are they distinctly different in taste, but they also belong to different plant families. Broccoli is a common vegetable in the United States, while broccoli rabe is harder to find and more of an acquired taste.
Broccoli, a member of the cabbage, originated in Italy and was brought to America by Italian immigrants. Closely related to cauliflower, it is high in vitamins A, C and K and packed with B-complex vitamins which aid cardiovascular health. The benefits of broccoli are received whether it is enjoyed raw or lightly steamed.
Broccoli rabe, also known as rapini, is a distant cousin to the turnip. Its taste is most often described as bitter, earthy and nutty and is rarely eaten raw. It is a green, leafy vegetable brought to America in the 1920s by Italian farmers. High in vitamins A, C and K, it also contains healthy amounts of potassium, iron and calcium. Despite the nutrients, broccoli rabe is still not a common food among American households. Before cooking broccoli rabe, wash it thoroughly in cold water and remove stems and any discoloured and wilted leaves.
Where to Buy
Broccoli can be found at any grocery store where produce is sold. It can be purchased fresh or frozen. Frozen broccoli is usually sold in spears, chopped, or just the florets. Broccoli rabe, however, is a bit more difficult to come by. It can sometimes be found at farmers markets or sold by local growers. It is not commonly sold in grocery stores.
There are several ways to prepare broccoli. Fresh broccoli needs to be thoroughly washed and stalks removed. When not eaten raw, as crudité, it is often served as a steamed side to an entrée and appears in many pasta dishes. Broccoli rabe is typically sautéed in olive oil with garlic and sometimes chopped tomatoes. There are several recipes in the Resources section for both vegetables.