Sautéed rapini is a simple side dish of Italian style broccoli. It is very nutritious, a tiny bit bitter, and definitely one of my favorite green vegetables. Use it in pasta and polenta dishes, too!

sauteed rapini in a bowl

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Originally published September 12, 2012

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What is Rapini?

For those of you who don’t know what rapini are or what it looks like, it’s a type of Italian broccoli. It’s more leafy and with a little sharpness in its flavor than it’s American/British cousin. Also sometimes referred to as “rabe” (pronounced “rah-beh”) or “broccoli raab”, it is a green cruciferous vegetable. Rapini have small heads of florets, similar to broccolini, but with many more leaves (all the parts are edible).

I absolutely LOVE these greens! I would call it the “adult” version of standard broccoli-although, as you will learn below, I gave it to my children while they were still babies.

Handheld bunch of rapini
Fresh rapini

My Daughter’s Crazy, Goat-Hating Pediatrician

When my daughter was almost 12 months old, I took her to a new pediatrician for a well-visit check up. The doctor asked all the routine questions like what my daughter was eating, how she was sleeping, along with other developmental questions.

I told her that I was weaning her and had been supplementing her diet with goat milk.

The pediatrician was visibly shocked, and asked,

“Why goat’s milk?”

To which I responded,

“For one thing, it’s more easily digestable than cow’s milk.”

So, she asked me what was wrong with formula. I gave her my opinion (basically that I preferred to give my daughter something natural as opposed to something created in a science lab) to which she obviously disagreed.

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The pediatrician went on to tell me that goat’s milk doesn’t contain any folates. She also declared, with disgust in her voice, that my daughter was the only infant in her practice who was “on goat’s milk!” With one last insult, she exclaimed, “And goats are such ugly animals!” I swear, she actually said this! At this point, I realized she was grasping at straws.

So, I informed this “doctor” that I was also sure that my daughter was also the only infant in her practice who was eating rapini which happens to be full of folates.

sauteed rapini in a dish

Not only was it unprofessional of this pediatrician to discuss an animal’s “looks” to defend her case, but what a total loser: goats are absolutely adorable!

Needless to say, that was my first and last visit to that pediatrician. I might add that my daughter has grown to 5’8″ in height, was almost never ill, never had an ear infection, and was rarely given antibiotics! Take that, you goat-hating, poor excuse for a pediatrician! 😝

Sautéed rapini is a good introduction to the vegetable if you’ve never had it before, but be sure to eat it with some fresh, crusty bread. It has a strong flavor, and I think you’ll find, you may want some bread alongside it.

Another recipe using rapini: Rapini and Besciamella Orecchiette

Serving orecchiette

Fresh Rapini

Turn the greens quickly, then cover and sauté for a few minutes, occasionally turning. Add salt to taste. Lower the heat, if necessary.

Rapini in a pan with glass lid

Don’t overcook the rapini, the stalks should still be a bit firm/crunchy when done. Check doneness after 5 or 6 minutes.

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Rapini in a pan

The best way to test the rapini is to pierce a stalk and taste a leaf for salt. Remove from heat when the greens are ready. The rapini will look like this.

Sauteed rapini

How to Use or Serve Rapini

This makes a fantastic side for almost any dish. Next time you want to serve broccoli, spinach or green beans as a side, try rapini for a change. But don’t be shy; use rapini in sandwiches, like this porchetta (pork) panino!

Porchetta and rapini panino

It’s also used in polenta to add lots of flavor and nutrition. Many people, including me, love it with pasta, especially when made with fresh Italian sausage!

My daughter and I love sautéed rapini so much, we had a bowl of soup for dinner the other night, and then an entire bowl of rapini afterwards instead of a salad (of course served with homemade Italian bread!)

sauteed rapini

I failed to mention the wonderful nutritional benefits to eating rapini! It’s full of all sorts of vitamins and minerals. You should be able to find rapini in any large grocery store, if not, Whole Foods should have it in their produce department.

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Other rapini recipes ~

Orecchiette with Rapini

Pizza Rolls with Sausage and Rapini

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