If you’re looking for something to add some grit to your dish, broccoli rabe may be the answer.
It’s easy to find at your local grocery store in the produce section or with other greens in a bag or box of mixed greens.
Broccoli rabe is also called rapini and has long green stalks topped by clusters of buds.
When the stalks are young, they’re tender enough to eat raw, but as they age, you should Blanche them for about 5 minutes before putting them into your dish.
Broccoli rabe has an earthy flavor similar to broccoli but with a little more bite.
However, if broccoli rabe isn’t your thing or you are looking to try something new, these are some other vegetables that may be able to give your recipe the same flavor.
This article will give you five alternatives to broccoli rabe.
What is Broccoli Rabe?
First of all, what is broccoli rabe? Broccoli rabe (sometimes known as rapini) is an edible green cruciferous vegetable that belongs to the same species as the cabbage.
It has long green stalks and leafy florets, which are both edible.
It tastes like a cross between broccoli and turnips.
The leaves resemble those of turnip, while the florets resemble broccoli.
The vegetable gets its name because it tastes like broccoli (although not at all like cauliflower) and is in the same family as turnips.
The leaves are slightly bitter but give an interesting texture to dishes, especially when sauteed or braised.
They are typically prepared by themselves or with other greens.
They should be washed thoroughly first to remove all grit, which can usually be removed by swishing the leaves around in a bowl of cool water.
The stems are also generally prepared like other similar cruciferous vegetables (for example, cooked with other leafy greens).
So, why not try broccoli rabe? You will like it.
The 5 Best Substitutes for Broccoli Rabe
Although it is tasty and healthy food, you may not always want to eat it because of its strong taste.
If that is the case for you, then try some of these substitutes:
1 – Turnip Greens
One of the most common and popular substitutes for broccoli rabe is turnip greens.
They’re typically sold in bunches with the leaves tightly bound together.
Although they look like collard greens, they taste much sweeter and milder than their cousin.
They are usually cooked with bacon or salt pork.
Furthermore, they may be eaten alone or combined with other greens.
Some people are even known to use them in various salads.
So, if you want to substitute your broccoli rabe, why not try turnip greens?
2 – Chard Greens
Chard has a taste similar to turnip greens, but it’s milder than the former.
The leaves may also be cooked like spinach.
You can just put in less cooking time to keep its color and flavor.
These can be bought in bunches with the leaves tightly bound together.
They are typically sold in most grocery stores, but they may also be available fresh at farmer’s markets.
However, you must ensure that the stalks are still tender before cooking them.
3 – Broccolini
Broccolini is another vegetable that can substitute for broccoli rabe.
It is usually available in most grocery stores in the produce section around 8 – 10 inches tall, with small florets tightly clustered at the top of each stem.
It has a slightly sweet taste and gets its name from broccoli rabe.
You can use it cooked or raw (in salads). Just like broccoli, you should steam, blanch, stir-fry, or boil it for best results.
Depending on the recipe, broccolini may take less time to cook than broccoli rabe.
4 – Spinach
Spinach tastes somewhat sweeter than broccoli rabe, and it may be eaten raw.
Of course, you can saute it with some garlic and onions, together with other ingredients such as meat, seafood, or even cheese.
It may be eaten with pasta to make it more delicious and fragrant.
Spinach is also available in frozen form (either chopped or leafy).
It can be used in most recipes that call for broccoli rabe.
It is a good idea to use fresh spinach if you want to substitute your broccoli rabe because it has a stronger flavor and a better taste than frozen or canned spinach, although the latter two are still tasty.
5 – Mustard Greens
Last but not least, another substitute for broccoli rabe is mustard greens.
They are usually sold in bunches with tightly bound leaves that tend to be thick and slightly curly.
They may be eaten raw in salads or cooked with other ingredients to make them tastier.
Mustard greens are best when sauteed with garlic or onions to remove their bitter flavor.
The flavor of mustard greens is also similar to that of turnip greens, but it’s considerably stronger.
Hence, it is best to use mustard greens to substitute your broccoli rabe while maintaining its strong taste.
Broccoli rabe is a tasty and healthy vegetable that has a strong flavor.
However, it’s not always available (especially when dealing with the frozen variant) or doesn’t fit your taste buds.
That’s why you can try these substitutes if you need to supplement broccoli rabe in your diet: turnip greens, chard greens, broccolini, spinach, and mustard greens.
You can enjoy a similar flavor by using these natural alternatives.
Of course, you don’t have to limit yourself to just one of these.
Try mixing up your ingredients when home cooking to keep your meals interesting.