How to Use Broccoli Rabe and Grow this leafy Green
If you are looking for a cool season leafy green that produces small florets similar to Broccolini (but smaller) then Broccoli Rabe is one to try. Its also known as rapini and a few varieties are available.
This is a plant that many in Italy grow and in Puglia and Sicily it is a must. Famous for the dish Orecchiette con Cime di Rapa which is a simple dish consisting of blanched Broccoli rabe leaves, anchovies, garlic and breadcrumbs ( and lots of olive oil) it is used to make a sauce that is served with Orecchiette.
How to Grow Broccoli Rabe
The seeds are small are are sown in early winter, spring and autumn/fall. however this does depend a little on your climate zone.
- Choose a sunny position.
- Dig the soil over well and add some aged cow manure.
- Sow the seeds around 3 -4 inches apart (10cm) but don’t worry if they are closer, you can always thin them out.
- Water in well with a liquid seaweed fertiliser and thats about it.
- he seeds will germinate within 14 days.
- Watch out for snails and slugs.
For a continuous supply we suggest planting in succession, one sowing every 3 weeks in the season.
When to harvest
- You can wait until the first flower stalk appear and then harvest. OR what until the leaves are large enough and then harvest as you wish. This is a cut and come again leafy green.
- Harvest time can differ between the different varieties, (around 4 of these) so harvest on look of the plant rather than on the number of weeks.
How to Use Broccoli Rabe
The stems can have a slightly bitter taste when raw but this is neutralised when you blanch them.
Blanch by placing salted boiling water for 2 minutes.
Use Rape or Rapini in the classic recipe, Orecchiette con Cime di Rapa. Or try it Sauteed with onions and red pepper and garlic.