Broccoli raab

Broccoli raab (Brassica rapa, subspecies parachinensis) resembles sparsely budded broccoli stalks and is related to the turnip. Although the bitter taste has never been a favorite in North American cuisine, this vegetable is often used in Italian or Chinese cooking as it adds an aggressive zest to pasta and potato dishes, or with spicy curries and Carib fair.

Broccoli raab, also known as Brocoletti di Rape or Brocoletto, is available year round and keeps well in the crisper for a few days. It is best to look for bunches that are firm, with relatively few buds and open flowers, and small stems. Broccoli raab is very low in calories (about 40 per cup), and an excellent source of vitamins A, C, and K, a fairly good source of folic acid, low in sodium, and a good source of potassium.

Although it can be cooked about the same time as regular broccoli, remember that this little plant packs a wallop and is considerably more pungent. The rule of thumb for cooking most greens is quickly, from 2 to 6 minutes, whether boiled, steamed, stir-fried, braised, or sauteed. For the brave at heart, try juicing Broccoli raab with some kale, celery, wheatgrass and carrots. Whoa!

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