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CIME DI RAPA, BROCCOLI RABE, RAPINI: COOKING, RECIPES, NUTRITIONAL VALUES

Cima di rapa (Brassica Rapa L. subsp. sylvestris L. Janch. var. esculenta Hort.), also known as Broccoli rabe, Rapini, Raab, Spring broccoli, Italian turnip, is a vegetable typically grown and cooked in Central and Southern Italy. Cima translates top, and rapa transalates Turnip, so the literal translation would be Turnip top. Cime is the plural of Cima, and in Italy we normally use the plural Cime di rapa.
Some dishes are officially considered traditional of Italy: the Ministry of agricultural food, forestry and tourism policies has in fact included among the traditional food products of the Puglia region both stewed Rapini and orecchiette with Rapini.
In this article we will see how to clean Broccoli rabe, how to cook them and some cime di rapa recipes such as Broccoli rabe and sausage. Furthermore, we will see how to recognize them and what the nutritional values ​​are.
Enjoy the reading!

WHAT IS BROCCOLI RABE?

Broccoli rabe is a plant of Mediterranean origin, and is different from the common turnip due to the fact that it is an annual plant and due to the fact that the taproot does not thicken. The leaves are elongated and irregularly lobed and toothed. It is characterized by a very branched floral scape (part of the stem without leaves or branches that bears only terminal flowers), with umbrella inflorescences that are collected before the flowers open.
The sowing takes place in late spring or during the summer months, while the harvest begins in autumn / winter and can continue until late spring. The plants are cut at about 10 cm from the ground.

Where are Cime di rapa grown? Which types are there?

In Italy Rapini are mostly cultivated in Lazio, Puglia and Campania. There are dozens of ecotypes, which take their name from geographical locations, from precocity, from the size of the inflorescence or from two or more characteristics together. We find for example the Tardiva di Fasano, the Aprileof Carovigno, the Cima di rapa Cassanese, the Quarantina(very precocious variety: from sowing to harvest, about 40 days pass), the Sessantina, the Novantina. In recent decades cultivation has also reached other European countries, the United States, Canada, Argentina and Australia.

How to choose Broccoli rabe?

When we go shopping, first of all let’s look if we are buying Broccoli rabe or some other vegetables that look somehow like him.
It may be that the name indicated is Rapini, Cime di rapa, Spring broccoli, Broccoletti di rapa, Rappini, Raab. Verify that, in addition to the leaves, there are also flowers still closed. Also, make sure they are fresh: to do this, watch that the plant is well turgid (and not floppy), that it has a beautiful green color and that the flowers are all well closed.
The more the flowers are developed, the more bitter taste substances are present.

HOW TO CLEAN CIME DI RAPA

Cleaning Rapini is simple, but it is necessary to know the characteristics of the various parts, which to keep and which to eliminate.
Looking at Rapini, you will see the stem, some thick and large leaves, smaller and tender leaves, floral scapes with closed flowers on them.
Normally the parts that are cooked are the floral scapes with the little flowers  and the softer leaves, while the remaining parts are eliminated (large leaves, stem, and harder twigs). Some eliminate all the twigs, even the smallest ones, while others cook them despite being a bit fibrous because they have good nutritional characteristics.
You can then decide to keep even the largest leaves, perhaps eliminating the fibrous vein.
Here are the steps to clean our Broccoli raab:

  1. Using a knife, cut the base of the florets (the flowering stems making up the “heads” of the Rapini).
  2. Remove the leaves, and separate the leaves you wish to eliminate from those you intend to cook.

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On Gustorotondo you find Cime di rapa in extra virgin olive oil and other authentic Italian artisan foods.
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HOW TO COOK CIME DI RAPA

Now let’s see how to cook broccoli rabe.

Steamed Cime di rapa:
Rapini (another name with which this vegetable is known) are a good source of polyphenols, especially flavonoids. Steam cooking is perhaps the one that keeps the polyphenolic compounds present in turnip tops more intact.

Boiled Cime di Rapa:
To boil Broccoli Rabe, simply dip them in boiling water, possibly with a little salt, for about 10 minutes. Boiling may generate a significant loss of flavonoids.

Sautéed Broccoli rabe:
If Broccoli rabe are very tender, they can also be sautéed.

Cooking in a pressure cooker:
Rapini can also be cooked in a pressure cooker. Cooking them in a pressure cooker perhaps generates a significant loss of caffeoyl‐quinic acid derivatives.

Cooking turnip tops in a microwave oven:
Microwave cooking is not recommended, as it probably generates large losses of the polyphenols contained (loss of both flavonoids and sinapic and caffeoyl‐quinic acid derivative).

CIME DI RAPA RECIPES

There are several Cime di rapa recipes. In addition to the classic Orecchiette with Broccoli rabe, you can prepare sautéed broccoli rabe with other ingredients, broccoli rabe and sausage, Rapini and beans and other dishes.
Let’s see some recipes!

Orecchiette with cime di rapa

Orecchiette are often seasoned with ragù or broccoli, but the main recipe is that of the orecchiette with cime di rapa.

In addition to the original Orecchiette with Cime di rapa recipe, it is possible to prepare recipes with the addition of other ingredients. For example:

  • Orecchiette with Broccoli raab and sausage
  • Orecchiette with Rapini and pancetta

We dedicated an entire article to the orecchiette with cime di rapa. Read it by clicking here

Sautéed Broccoli raab with garlic, evoo and anchovies

Another Cime di rapa recipe is that of Sautéed Rapini with, garlic, anchovies and extra virgin olive oil.

Ingredients – 4 persons:

  • 1 kg Cime di rapa to be cleaned
  • 120 g salted anchovies
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Extra virgin olive oil 2 spoons
  • Salt to taste.
  • Chili pepper to taste
  • Breadcrumbs to taste

Sautéed Broccoli rabe with garlic, oil and anchovies – Method

To prepare Sautéed Broccoli rabe with  garlic, evoo and anchovies, follow these simple steps:

  1. Clean and wash the Rapini. Find how to clean them and how to wash them above in this article.
  2. Put a pan full of water on the fire, and when the water boils, boil the turnip tops until they become al dente(it will take 5 to 10 minutes, depending on their size). If Rapini are very tender, you can skip this step.
  3. Drain the vegetables.
  4. Put a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, garlic and chilli broken by hand in a pan and brown for a few minutes.
  5. Add the anchovy fillets, and break them with a wooden spoon.
  6. Add the Rapini.
  7. Continue to cook the ingredients without a lid for about 10 minutes.
  8. If you think it is appropriate, when there are a couple of minutes left to cook, add a sprinkle of breadcrumbs.

Serve the Sautéed Broccoli rabe hot, perhaps together with toasted bread.

Stewed Cime di rapa with chilli and white wine

Stewed Rapini can be prepared with many different ingredients. Here we will see one of the possible simple and tasty cime di rapa recipes.

Ingredients:

  • 1 kg Rapini
  • 1 or 2 cloves of garlic
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Half a glass of white wine
  • Salt to taste
  • Chili pepper to taste

Method:
To prepare stewed Broccoli raab, follow these simple steps:

  1. Clean and wash the vegetables following the instructions you find above in this article.
  2. Put the Cime di rapa in a saucepan, preferably in an earthenware casserole.
  3. Put the casserole on medium heat and let the water contained in the vegetables come out.
  4. As the water comes out, if it is too bitter, remove it all; otherwise, you can remove a part of it and let the other part evaporate.
  5. When no more water is formed and the water has evaporated or you have eliminated it, add salt, chilli broken by hand, garlic, wine, a little extra virgin olive oil.
  6. Leave on the heat for another 10 to 15 minutes.

Cime di rapa and sausage

Broccoli rabe and sausage is a nutritious and tasty dish.

Ingredients:

  • 1 kg Rapini to be cleaned
  • 500 g spicy sausage
  • 1 or 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 red chili pepper.
  • Extra virgin olive oil 2 tablespoons
  • Salt to taste.

Method:
To prepare Broccoli rabe and sausage recipe, follow these simple steps:

  1. Clean and wash the Rapini. Read how to clean Rapini above in this article.
  2. Put a pot of water on the fire. When it boils, boil the vegetables together with a small pinch of salt.
  3. Drain the vegetables.
  4. Take a pan, and put it on the fire. Put the sausages to brown. Add a ladle of cooking water and leave the sausages to brown for at least 10 minutes, turning them occasionally.
  5. Put a saucepan on the heat, and add the garlic (possibly eliminating the inner part), the chilli broken with your hands and a little extra virgin olive oil. Brown for a few minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon.
  6. Add the blanched Rapini, and sauté the ingredients for 5 minutes.
  7. Remove the garlic clove and add the sausage. Mix with a wooden fork so that the flavors blend together.

CIME DI RAPA CALORIES AND NUTRITIONAL VALUES

Rapini contain few calories: around 22 kcal every 100 grams.
Here are the nutritional values:

  • Water 92 %
  • Proteins 2,9%
  • Lipids 0,3%
  • Carbohydrates 2%
  • Dietary fiber 2,9%
  • Iron 1,5 mg
  • Calcium 97 mg
  • Phosphorus 69 mg
  • Thiamine 0,04 mg
  • Riboflavin 0,16 mg
  • Niacin 1 mg
  • Vitamin A 225 µg
  • Vitamin C 110 mg

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