Although it has broccoli's name, broccoli raab is not related to broccoli, but is closely related to turnips which is probably why the leaves look like turnip greens. Lots of broccoli-like buds appear, but a head never forms. It is grown as much for its long-standing, tasty mustard-like tops as for the multiple small florets. Originating in the Mediterranean and China, it is actually a descendant of a wild herb. Once highly prized by the Romans and cultivated all over the southern Mediterranean, broccoli rabe didn't appear in North America until the 1920s, when Italian farmers brought it to the United States.
Season: October - April
How to select: Broccoli rabe is usually displayed in a refrigerated produce case sprinkled with ice because it wilts very easily. Choose firm, green, small stems with compact heads. Like broccoli, the flower buds that make up the florets should be tightly closed and dark green, not open or yellow. Avoid ones with leaves that are wilted, yellowing, or have dark green patches of slime.
How to store: Refrigerate unwashed in your crisper wrapped in plastic or a wet towel for up to 5 days. For longer storage, blanch and freeze. If you are growing your own plants, it is best to harvest right before your meal.
How to prepare: Rinse thoroughly in cold water, shake, and cut off the bottoms of the stalks. Broccoli rabe is better cooked than raw. A light steaming brings out its distinctive taste. As a side vegetable, broccoli rabe yields only about one serving per pound because it cooks way down. Cook it like broccoli, but whether you braise, sauté, boil, or steam it, only cook it for eight to ten minutes. You can steam it in water or chicken broth, or sauté it with oil and garlic.
Matches well with: garlic, lemon, olive oil