Meet broccoli's closest relatives. When it comes to vegetables, the U.S. can proudly dub itself Broccoli Nation. Each year, each of us eats almost six pounds of fresh and three pounds of frozen broccoli. We have Italy to thank -- broccoli has been grown and enjoyed there since the days of the Roman Empire, and when immigrants from Italy hit U.S. shores, their favorite vegetable became one of ours as well.
Of course, we also devour some of broccoli's closest relatives:
With its small florets and long, slender stems, Broccolini can be easily confused with broccoli rabe. But its flavor is sweeter, more refined and delicate. And its stem looks (even tastes) more like asparagus. In fact, Broccolini’s original name, Aspabroc (yikes!), was a combination of the vegetables it resembled. Often called baby broccoli, Broccolini (Brassica oleracea var. botrytis) is a hybrid of broccoli and Chinese broccoli (kai lan) that was developed and trademarked in 1993 by Japan’s Sakata Seed Corporation. You can use it in any dish that calls for traditional broccoli.
Some Top-Rated Broccolini Recipes:
"Broccolini is more tender than broccoli and has a milder flavor," explains JUMAHA. "I love the mix of textures; the crunchy stems and the softer florets that soak up sauce are a great combination. This quick broccolini dish is delicious, good for you, and full of garlicky, lemony flavor."
This impressive steak dinner grills up in no time. Spread seasoned broccolini and potato slices on a hot grill alongside the flat-iron steak, and serve with a zesty blue cheese sauce. Watch the video to see how it's done:
This flavorful pasta is a little spicy, a little sweet. "Delicious!" raves Michelle. "Has a great flavor, really can taste the lemon had great pan juices that I poured over pasta." As CaspaCook points out, "This would be great with spinach or kale, too," with our without broccolini or broccoli.
Another gift from the Italians is broccoli rabe, or, as Italians call it, cime di rapa (which means “turnip tops”). Although broccoli rabe is in the same family as regular broccoli, it’s also related to the turnip. Broccoli rabe’s florets are much smaller than those of its broccoli cousin, its stems are more slender, and its leaves more plentiful. Unlike with broccoli, however, all parts of broccoli rabe (Brassica rapa ruvo) are eaten—its stalks don’t require peeling because they’re not as thick and tough as broccoli’s. Its flavor has a bitter edge that some say turns mild and creamy when cooked past crisp-tender.
Some Top-Rated Broccoli Rabe Recipes:
"This is the way broccoli rabe was meant to be cooked," says iMakeItRainInTheKitchen. "Goes great with a nice steak or fish. Serve with crusty Italian bread and some good vino. The best part is dipping the crusty bread in those juices."
"Rave reviews from my family," says Sandra. "Take care NOT to overcook. We're trying it again tonight as a topping on my homemade pizza
"Here's an Italian classic that needs no adaptation to make it paleo," says Mangia Paleo. Lemon zest brightens it and adds a subtle, yet significant flavor."
Check out our collection of Broccoli Rabe Recipes.
- How to Cook Broccoli Right
- Flash-Blasted Broccoli: The Quick Trick That Makes Broccoli Irresistible
- 10 One-Pot Broccoli Main Dishes for Easy, Complete Meals
- Our 9 Best Healthy Broccoli Side Dishes
- 7 Top-Rated Broccoli Salad Recipes
A portion of this article first appeared as "Broccoli vs Broccoli Rabe vs Broccolini" in Allrecipes magazine.