When I first heard of rapini, I thought it was what you did to get down the side of a steep mountain. When I found out that it is a form of broccoli, and that some foodies call it raab [pronounced RAHB], I had to mentally shift gears.
According to the Food Network Encyclopedia, rapini or raab is:
A vegetable related to both the cabbage and turnip family, the leafy green broccoli raab has 6- to 9-inch stalks and scattered clusters of tiny broccolilike buds. It’s also called American gai lan, brocoletti di rape, Italian broccoli, rabe, rape, and rapini. The greens have a pungent, bitter flavor that is not particularly popular in America where, more often than not, they’re used as animal fodder. Italians are particularly fond of broccoli raab, however, and cook it in a variety of ways including frying, steaming and braising. It can also be used in soups or salads.
I am fond of sautéed rapini with mushrooms and garlic. Here is my simple recipe for spicy rapini. Serve as a side dish or as a tapas appetizer.
2 large bunches of rapini
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic (sliced thin)
2 cups cremini (brown) mushrooms (sliced)
Red pepper flakes
Salt to taste
Rinse rapini and trim ends. Blanch in boiling water for 3 minutes. Drain in a colander and set aside.
Heat olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds. Add mushrooms and cook for about 5 minutes or until just tender. Reduce heat to medium-low.
Add rapini, salt, and a good pinch of red pepper flakes (more if you like it super spicy). Cook for another 3 minutes turning rapini frequently. Serve while still hot from the stove.