Information About Broccoli Rabe

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Potted Broccoletto Care: How To Grow Broccoli Rabe In Containers

By Liz Baessler

Broccoli rabe, also known as broccoletto, is a leafy green eaten with its immature flower heads. It's a tasty, fast growing vegetable to have on hand for cooking. But can you grow it in a pot? Learn more about how to grow broccoli rabe in containers here.

Broccoli Rabe Harvest: How And When To Cut Broccoli Raab Plants

By Susan Patterson, Master Gardener

Broccoli raab is a leafy plant grown for its leaves and unopened flower buds and stems. Knowing when to cut broccoli raab plants and how to harvest broccoli rabe is crucial for achieving a tasty crop. Click here for more.

Tips For How To Grow Broccoli Rabe

By Jackie Rhoades

What is broccoli rabe? Whatever it is, it's easy to grow and worth a small patch in your vegetable garden. However, how to grow broccoli rabe properly seems to be another part of the mystery. Learn more here.

A recent e-mail asked a simple question: “Where can I find broccoli rabe seed?”. Now, broccoli I know – but broccoli rabe seemed to be a different kind of plant. Off to the Internet races I went again.

I immediately gleaned an article that noted “The rabe in broccoli rabe is pronounced raab.” This was important information but I didn’t recognize its significance at the time.

I used another search engine this time, My quest for broccoli rabe information yielded one hundred and seventy eight Web sites with recipes for the vegetable but not a single mention of its seed. The recipes for “Broccoli Rabe Raisins” and “Broccoli Rabe Pilaf” seemed tasty but my questioner wanted to grow the stuff before she cooked it.

Most of the recipes described broccoli rabe as a kind of broccoli, having large leaves and small flower heads. Mention was made of its great content of folic acid and beta-carotene. These are admirable qualities in a vegetable but I began to suspect that it appeared magically on kitchen counters rather than being available at the supermarket.

Finally, after following dozens of broccoli rabe Web links down to inevitable dead ends, I took a shortcut. I e-mailed Dr. Wayne McLaurin, an Extension horticulturist who holds, between his hairy ears, an all-encompassing database of arcane vegetable knowledge.

“Just come to the source of all knowledge when you want to know something!” he replied. “Broccoli rabe is commonly called broccoli raab and is Brassica rapa L. var. rapa in scientific circles. In English it is also called turnip broccoli, Italian turnip and broccoletto. In Dutch: raapstelen and raapsteeltjes in French: raves de feuille in German: rubenstiel in Italian: cima di rapa or groccoletti di rapa in Spanish: nabo de grotes and in Portuguese: nabo greleiro. What else do you need?”

That outpouring of knowledge was all it took. Search on “broccoli raab seed”……Click!…… and there is the Web site of my friend and fellow television garden host, Ed Hume. He offers hundreds of vegetable and flower seed packets via the Internet and finally, my quest for broccoli rabe (raab) seed is fulfilled.

Rapini Varieties

If you think rapini might be right for your sophisticated, complex taste buds, here are some popular, easy-to-find varieties to consider growing at home.

1. Quarantina

Quarantina is a tender, fast-growing rapini that is great for containers or square foot gardens as it can tolerate closer spacing. This variety is also a classic favorite because as the name implies, it’s ready to harvest in as little as 40 days. Also because of that short harvest time, it’s suitable to plant in spring or fall.

Unfortunately, it will bolt and turn bitter after just a few days of heat, especially if it’s not well-watered. So, when planting this variety, make sure your temperatures will stay cool for most of its growing period.

You can also try the ‘Sessantina’ (70 day) and ‘Novantina’ (90 day) varieties. Like Quarantina, these are classic, flavorful and tender Italian bred varieties.

Besides taking a little longer to harvest, the higher the number in the name, the bigger the plant will grow to be. So, you’ll need to plan about twice as much space for ‘Novantina’ (9) than for ‘Quarantina’ (4).

2. Spring Raab

‘Spring Raab’ is another fast grower, ready in about 45 days. It’s great for areas with short cool seasons. It has a bit more heat tolerance than Quarantina, but still requires regular watering in warm temperatures to keep it from turning too bitter.

As the name implies, this one is best if planted in spring. It can be fall grown, but it will only overwinter in very mild climates.

3. Zamboni

Despite being named after an ice rink surfacer, this rapini is actually fairly heat-tolerant. It takes more like 65-70 days to harvest, but it’s less likely to turn bitter and bolt than some of the shorter harvest varieties. This is a good choice for early spring planting in a southern climate.

It does get stressed by overly cold weather though. So, either plant it after the risk of frost, or protect it during cold spells. It also works well for a fall harvest, but make sure to start it at least 2.5-3 months before your cold sets in to ensure a good harvest.

4. Riccia di S. Marzano

This variety is known to have especially tasty leaves as well as heads. So, like those luscious San Marzano tomatoes, this rapini is great for serious foodies. It is a bit more finicky to grow.

It has beautiful curly leaves (think Lacinato kale). It falls into the category of a ‘sessantina’ so it takes about 70 days to mature. Plus, for best results, you’ll really want to grow it during cool, mild periods when there is no risk of frost or excessive heat.

Common Disease Problems

Alternaria Leaf Spot: Small, round reddish brown spots with white to gray centers for on the upper surface of the leaves. The lesions may encircle the stems and cause wilt. This disease is worse in warm, wet or very humid weather. Burpee Recommends: Avoid getting water on the foliage. Remove infected plant parts and do not work around wet plants. Provide plenty of air circulation. Contact your Cooperative Extension Service for fungicide recommendations.

Clubroot: This causes plants to wilt in patches during the day, stunts their growth, and causes swollen or disfigured roots. Burpee Recommends: Rotate crops with plants in a different family. Avoid overhead watering. Provide adequate air circulation, do not overcrowd plants. Improve drainage by reducing soil compaction. Do not work around plants when they are wet. Control weeds where the disease can overwinter.

Damping Off: This is one of the most common problems when starting plants from seed. The seedling emerges and appears healthy then it suddenly wilts and dies for no obvious reason. Damping off is caused by a fungus that is active when there is abundant moisture and soils and air temperatures are above 68 degrees F. Typically, this indicates that the soil is too wet or contains high amounts of nitrogen fertilizer. Burpee Recommends: Keep seedlings moist but do not overwater avoid over-fertilizing your seedlings thin out seedlings to avoid overcrowding make sure the plants are getting good air circulation if you plant in containers, thoroughly wash them in soapy water & rinse in a ten per cent bleach solution after use.

Downy Mildew: This fungus causes whitish gray patches on the undersides and eventually both sides of the leaves. Burpee Recommends: Rotate crops with plants in a different family. Avoid overhead watering. Provide adequate air circulation, do not overcrowd plants. Do not work around plants when they are wet.

Powdery Mildew: This fungus disease occurs on the top of the leaves in humid weather conditions. The leaves appear to have a whitish or greyish surface and may curl. Burpee Recommends: Avoid powdery mildew by providing good air circulation for the plants by good spacing and pruning. Contact your Cooperative Extension Service for fungicide recommendations.

Common Pest and Cultural Problems

Aphids: Greenish, red, black or peach colored sucking insects can spread disease as they feed on the undersides of leaves. They leave a sticky residue on foliage that attracts ants. Burpee Recommends: Introduce or attract natural predators into your garden such as lady beetles and wasps who feed on aphids. You can also wash them off with a strong spray, or use an insecticidal soap.

Cabbage Looper: These worms are green with a white stripe on either side, about 1-1.5 inches long. They tunnel through the heads. Burpee Recommends: Hand pick. Floating row covers can help prevent their laying eggs on the plants.

Flea Beetles: These small hopping beetles feed on plant foliage and can spread disease. Burpee Recommends: Rotate crops with plants in a different plant family. Use floating row covers to prevent damage to young foliage.

Leafminers: These insects bore just under the leaf surface causing irregular serpentine lines. The larvae are yellow cylindrical maggots and the adults are small black and yellow flies. They do not usually kill plants, but disfigure the foliage. Burpee Recommends: Remove affected foliage.

Slugs: These pests leave large holes in the foliage or eat leaves entirely. They leave a slime trail, feed at night and are mostly a problem in damp weather. Burpee Recommends: Hand pick, at night if possible. You can try attracting the slugs to traps either using cornmeal or beer. For a beer trap, dig a hole in the ground and place a large cup or bowl into the hole use something that has steep sides so that the slugs can’t crawl back out when they’re finished. Fill the bowl about ¾ of the way full with beer, and let it sit overnight. In the morning, the bowl should be full of drowned slugs that can be dumped out for the birds to eat. For a cornmeal trap, put a tablespoon or two of cornmeal in a jar and put it on its side near the plants. Slugs are attracted to the scent but they cannot digest it and it will kill them. You can also try placing a barrier around your plants of diatomaceous earth or even coffee grounds. They cannot crawl over these.

Broccoli Raab FAQs

My plants are flowering, why is this? Broccoli raab is a cool season crop and can produce a flower stalk when temperatures are high. At this stage the plants have completed their season and you should pull them out.

When should I sow broccoli raab in fall? If temperatures are over 85 degrees F in your area in August, start plants indoors the beginning of August. If temperatures are consistently under 85 degrees in August, direct sow at the end of July.

Why does my broccoli raab taste bitter? It is the nature of broccoli raab to taste bitter, it is not the same as broccoli. The leaves and flower buds are used in Chinese and Italian cooking and chosen for the bite they impart. The bitterness may be moderated to some extend by blanching prior to cooking. To do this, drop into boiling water for 2-4 minutes, then plunge into cold water to stop the cooking, drain and use.

Can I grow broccoli raab in containers? Yes, but only in a large container 24 inches deep and wide. Be sure to use a commercial container mix rather than garden soil.

Can I use the leaves of my broccoli raab in cooking? Yes, broccoli raab is grown for the leaves as well as the small flower buds.

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Broccoli Rabe vs. Broccoli Calabrese

I'm enjoying broccoli Calabrese for the first time this year. It's setting sprouts and they're marvelous sauteed with garlic and olive oil.

I just received some bonus seeds of broccoli rabe in a trade. I've never even laid eyes on it before. I think I might have time for a spring crop and I'm wondering if it is worth it. I have limited space and have some more broccoli seedlings I could plant instead.

The brassicas are health food, all have anti-cancer properties and sprouting broccoli is the most potent. I want to keep some kind of broccoli going as long as possible which is early May here. So do any of you grow the rabe and how does it compare? Thanks.

I've been considering growing some of these. I also will be growing some red stem pok choy sum this spring.

Broccoli raab would be MY last choice. I just didn't care for it, although it grew well. DW had the same opinion. Calabrese didn't do well in my garden, but i liked it a lot better than the raab type.

twiggy, what kind of raab seeds did you get? Some of the varieties are more popular for their leaves, others are grown for their flower shoots.

As for me, broccoli raab is a turnip plant with a spokesperson. *grin (Mainly because of its recent popularity in the past 8-10 years in the US.) I grow turnip greens each year, thoughout the Fall and Winter, and let them flower in the early Spring. The unopened flowers (shoots) are what would be considered "raab" and they are delicious! The look like tiny heads of broccoli, or rather "florets".

I'd go ahead and sow your seeds if I were you, it's worth giving it a try.

OK now that I've got the spelling right, I got some hits on google. Twice I saw mention that it could be bitter. That's the end of that. I don't do bitter.

The seeds are labeled Rapa Centroventina and I didn't get any specific info for that variety. If anyone wants these seeds, dmail me and they are yours.

This Calabrese I'm growing was a happy accident since I asked my daughter to pick me up some seeds and that's what she came back with. I was expecting the large head (normal) kind. It puts out plenty of leaves which are excellent sauteed and in the soup pot.

Shoe you gave it your best shot, but no. I'm heading out now to plant some cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower seedlings that I didn't have room for earlier. Now that my beloved toms, peppers and squash are history I've got some space. Thank you.

Hmm. you may want to keep those seeds, the Centovina is apparently a hard to find variety and is one of the most flavorful, known for its "texture and taste". I know the flower shoots that I eat aren't bitter until they age so perhaps the same is true of Raab, if not picked on time you get bitterness. Check out this description on your Centroventina:

But I don't blame ya for going the broccoli/cabbage route, you'll end up with more food per space probably!

Bitter depends on the tongue of the taster. Broccoli (and all cabbages) in general has a bitter and sweet tastes predominating.

If you have room, try planting a couple of broccoli raab to see if you like them. We like it with olive oil, garlic, salt & black pepper and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes if served as a vegetable. Most of the time, I add the broccoli raab to cannelinni beans. We soak the beans overnight, then cook them with a few cloves of garlic, bay leaves and olive oil, adding some thyme, rosemary or herbes de provence during the last ten minutes of cooking the beans. The chopped broccoli raab goes in when the beans are done and cooked a few minutes more to soften them.

Broccolo Spigariello is another cousin of broccoli that is very good. I see that Gourmet Seeds is carrying this now too. I had ordered mine from seeds of Italy.

Alright, I'll try just a few to check it out. I'd hate to miss something really good and have always said I'd try ANYTHING once.

I have enough seeds to share with a couple people if anyone else wants to try it. I'm not sure but, considering the source, I think they may be OP. Step right up and get your start right here. lol.

I, too, tried raab and did not care for it. Our supermarkets here used to carry a product they labeled "aspiration" which looked like a raab but tasted like a broccoli/celery cross that was very good. Unfortunately, it was very expensive and did not take off. It rarely makes it to the stores these days here.

Does anybody know what this is and if there are seeds available anywhere? I'd like to try this in my garden, but could never find seeds under that name.

While seeds for " Aspiration" are not readily available, there are several hybrids in the same class. It is a cross between broccoli and chinese kale, sometimes called broccolini. Sweet Baby (Osborne), Happy Rich (Johnny's) are two cultivars.

Broccoli Rabe (Rapini) Nutrition Facts

Broccoli rabe (rapini) is jam-packed with a wide range of nutrients including vitamins (like A, C, K) and minerals (like potassium, calcium, and iron). Adding this vegetable to your diet can certainly deliver a real health kick and promote overall well-being.

Broccoli rabe (rapini) is jam-packed with a wide range of nutrients including vitamins (like A, C, K) and minerals (like potassium, calcium, and iron). Adding this vegetable to your diet can certainly deliver a real health kick and promote overall well-being.

Choosing Broccoli Rabe

Make sure its leaves have not turned yellow or wilted. Also, look for broccoli rabe that has uniformly green, tightly closed florets.

Broccoli rabe, a cruciferous vegetable, is a relative of broccoli, but is found to be more closely related to the turnip family. No wonder, its leaves appear very similar to that of turnips. It has a bitter taste, very similar to kale than broccoli. Native to China and Mediterranean regions like Italy, broccoli rabe has become an integral part of their cuisine. Though it is abundantly grown in China, it is fast becoming popular in the American cuisine.

Broccoli Rabe Nutrition

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Green leafy vegetables have always been an excellent source of nutrition, and broccoli rabe is no different. It delivers the nutrition that your body requires to function properly, and moreover, it provides a strong defense against diseases. Its nutritional value can rival the most nutritious of fruits and vegetables.

Serving size: 40 g (1 cup)
Total Carbohydrates 1 g
Fat 0 g
Protein 1 g
Dietary Fiber 1 g
Sugar 0 g
Vitamin A 1049 IU
Vitamin C 8.1 mg
Vitamin E 0.6 mg
Vitamin K 89.6 mcg
Thiamin 0.1 g
Folate 33.2 mcg
Choline 7.3 mg
Calcium 43.2 mg
Iron 0.9 mg
Magnesium 8.8 mg
Phosphorus 29.2 mg
Potassium 78.4 mg
Sodium 13.2 mg
Zinc 0.3 mg

Whether you eat raw or cooked broccoli rabe, it packs a powerful punch of nutrition and health benefits.

  • It is chock-a-block with minerals like calcium, iron, and potassium, and vitamins such as A, C, and K. The vitamin K content in rapini meets more than 100% of the daily requirements.
  • Also, carrots are not only the source of pro-vitamin A (substance that gets converted by the body to vitamin A). It is also found amply in broccoli rabe.
  • The vegetable is also a good source of indole-3-carbinol, an excellent antioxidant, and it displays anticancer properties.
  • It also contains disease-fighting compounds such as sulforanes that exhibit both anticancer and antimicrobial properties.
  • Phytonutrients like lutein and zeaxanthin that provide eye nutrition are also present in broccoli rabe.
  • It is also an excellent source of heart-healthy fats. Just 40 g of rapini contains a whopping 45.2 mg of omega-3 fatty acids.

Like any other green vegetable, calories in broccoli rabe are insignificant. A cup of broccoli rabe provides just 9 calories . So, being low in calories and considered to be one of the richest sources of vitamin A and C, calcium, and iron, do not hesitate to include it in your diet. Sautéing, steaming, braising, and stir-frying are some of the healthy ways of cooking it. As aforementioned, it has a bitter taste, which can be slightly difficult to savor. Cooking the vegetable in boiling water for a minute can certainly help decrease the bitterness. Also, the vegetable can be a great addition to a wide number of dishes including rice and pasta.

Watch the video: Broccoli Rabe Grower Margaret DArrigo-Martin. PBS Bringing It Home

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