Healthy Vegetables: Broccoli Rabe vs. Broccolini – Which is Right for You?

It’s no secret that getting your daily — or hopefully even more than daily — fill of fruits and vegetables is absolutely essential to a nutritious diet. With a veritable cornucopia of choices when it comes to healthy plants to put on the dinner plate, though, it can be hard to narrow down exactly what to include in your culinary scheme. The choice between broccoli rabe and broccolini, two closely related but distinct nutritional powerhouses, is one many people have to make every day.

Today we’ll break down the differences between recipes, nutrition data, and more of these two unique green vegetables, and by the end you’ll have a better idea of which one is right for you. Read on to find out!

What is Broccoli Rabe?

Broccoli rabe, also known as rapini, is a cruciferous vegetable closely related to cabbage or broccoli. It’s known good for its slightly bitter flavor and has been a popular choice in many Mediterranean dishes for centuries.

Botanically speaking, broccoli rabe has many small flowering shoots and yellow flowers, giving it a slightly different appearance and texture than other greens such as collards or kale. Its leaves are thinner, flatter and are slightly curly, unlike the thicker, more dense leaves of other greens.

Nutrition Info: Broccoli Rabe

Broccoli rabe is an excellent source of both vitamins and minerals, much like other cruciferous vegetables. Some of the nutrients you can find in broccoli rabe are calcium, iron, vitamin C and K, and the antioxidant kaempferol.

A one-cup serving of broccoli rabe contains 32 calories, 2.5 grams of dietary fiber and a full day’s worth of vitamin K. It’s also an excellent source of vitamin A and Vitamin C as well as ample amounts of folate and magnesium.

What is Broccolini?

Broccolini is a designer vegetable that pairs the two favorite cruciferous veggies, broccoli, and Chinese kale (also known as gai lan) together to make a nutrient powerhouse of a food.

Broccolini first appeared in the 1990s, and quickly gained in popularity for its sweet, tender taste, and striking green color. Since its debut, it’s become a favorite alternative to broccoli, often being used as an upgrade for stir-fry, salads, and many other meals.

Nutrition Info: Broccolini

In terms of nutrition, broccolini is also an excellent source of vitamins and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, vitamin A and C, and vitamin K. It’s low calorie, free of fat and cholesterol, and high in dietary fiber.

A one-cup serving of broccolini provides 33 calories, 1.3 grams of dietary fiber, and 8 percent of the recommended daily value of iron. It’s also a good source of vitamin B6 and Folate.

How to Cook with Broccoli Rabe vs. Broccolini

When it comes to cooking, there isn’t much more you have to do when preparing broccolini and broccoli rabe. Both can be enjoyed raw, steam, sautéed, grilled, or boiled — whichever method you prefer.

Some recipes might call for blanching, which is a quick way to wilt and soften the vegetables before adding them to your meal. Boiling or steaming the vegetables for a few minutes will also help you get a tender texture.

It’s also important to note that both vegetables should be washed thoroughly and be sure to remove any dirt or mud from the stem before cooking.

Serving Suggestions for Broccoli Rabe and Broccolini

Broccolini and broccoli rabe can be enjoyed in many different dishes, but here are a few popular serving suggestions to get you started:

• Stir-fries: chop up the vegetables and add to your favorite Asian-inspired stir-fry with fish or meat.

• Salads: Add some texture and flavor to your favorite salad by tossing in a handful of steamed and lightly sautéed broccolini or broccoli rabe.

• Pizza: Shredded broccolini makes a great topping for pizza — try it with goat cheese, mozzarella, and a delicious tomato sauce.

• Pasta: Add some crunch to your regular old pasta by topping it with a mix of steamed or boiled broccoli rabe and broccolini.

When it comes to nutrition, it’s hard to choose between broccoli rabe and broccolini — both are excellent sources of vitamins and minerals, and low in calories. However, both vegetables have unique flavor profiles and cooking methods, so you have to decide which one is right for you.

Broccoli rabe is known for its slightly bitter flavor, perfect for adding a unique punch to dishes such as stir-fry or pasta. Broccolini, on the other hand, has a more sweet and tender taste, making it a great choice for salads or pizza topping.

In the end, the decision comes down to your taste preferences. Make sure to give broccoli rabe and broccolini a try and see which one you like better!