Every time I go to the grocery store, the kale section is completely bare… yet other leafy greens sit there, patiently waiting for the turn to shine, vying for a spot at your dinner table. I understand kale has been in the spotlight for some time, but it’s time to celebrate some of the other leafy greens and start enjoying them in your recipes.
What makes rapini (also known as broccoli rabe, Chinese broccoli or Italian broccoli) such a nutritional powerhouse?
This cousin of kale and broccoli contains plant nutrients (also known as phytochemicals) such as sulforaphanes which may help to prevent and fight lung, stomach, colon, breast and prostate cancers.
One cup of cooked rapini gives you half the vitamin A you need in a day. Vitamin A is a powerful antioxidant that protects cells from damage from free radicals in the environment and due to aging. Vitamin A also helps protect your eyes from macular degeneration, or loss of eyesight due to aging. Rapini can also help protect your eyes thanks to a plant nutrient called lutein, which may help prevent cataracts from forming.
Rapini is also an excellent source of folate, with 1 cup of cooked rapini providing 1/3 the amount that most people need each day. Folate is a B vitamin that plays an important role in repairing damage to healthy cells and is needed for red blood cell formation. Folate also helps reduce damage to DNA while keeping genes that may promote cancer turned off. Diets high in foods that contain folate are associated with a reduced risk of several types of cancer.
Rapini also contains 1/3 of the vitamin C most people need in a day. Vitamin C is another antioxidant that helps protect you from illness and infection, and is needed to form collagen, a protein required for gorgeous skin and healthy bones, joints and ligaments.
Now, a quick and easy recipe to get you rejoicing over rapini:
Sauteed Rapini with a Kick
- 2 bunches Rapini
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1/2 Shallot diced
- 1 cup Vegetable stock or chicken stock, homemade or low-sodium
- 2 tbsp olive oil or grapeseed oil,
- 1 tbsp Chili flakes or to taste
- Wash rapini well with water. Pat dry. Trim off the bottom 4 inches of stems (put these stems in your freezer and add them to the vegetable scraps you use to make vegetable stock).
- Heat oil in a large skillet or wok over medium heat. Add garlic, shallots and chili flakes and sauté for 1 minute.
- Add the rapini and stir. Add broth and bring to a boil.
- Cover the skillet or wok and reduce the heat to low. Cook for about 10 more minutes.