Broccoli Rabe, in Italian Rapini, is another unlikely relation to the turnip. The name suggests common broccoli but this is not the case, either taxonomically or in terms of taste. I’ve always chopped unpeeled rapini coarsely, blanched for two or three minutes in salted water, sautéed, then turned down the heat and covered the pan, effectively braising. Marcella has a very different approach: she peels the thicker stalks, chops coarsely and blanches for fifteen minutes in heavily salted water, then sautés briefly at high heat. She also adds chickpeas, or ceci, the sweetness of which balances the bitterness of the rapini beautifully, and a little red pepper to liven things up.
I cooked the dish with local rapini Marcella-style, and also with my old method. There is no comparison: the longer blanch and brief sauté creates a tender yet crisp result, much less mushy, and with brighter flavors.
Red Wagon Organic Farm