Its clusters of green buds resemble little heads of broccoli, but they’re surrounded by clusters of spiked leaves. Sometimes there are little yellow flowers blooming around those buds and yes, you can eat them. What is this plant that frequents winter produce markets? Broccoli rabe. But don’t let the name fool you – it’s not the same as broccoli.
They’re related but in a third cousin once-removed kind of way. Broccoli rabe is the Italian cousin and it is used liberally there, as well as in Spain and China. Its relationship with the turnip is better than its relationship with broccoli – or at least it’s more closely related to the turnip, anyway. Broccoli rabe tastes quite different than broccoli, too.
With this, you’ll experience an earthy, nutty, even somewhat bitter tastes, which fades more the longer you cook it. It tastes great in pasta with garlic and rosemary – think Italian! Or it can stand on its own as a side, sauteed and with or without seasoning.