This sautéed rapini recipe is really delicious, and so easy to make.
Rapini isn’t a vegetable that everyone is familiar with or cooks with often. It looks a bit like broccoli, but what is it really?
What is Rapini?
If you have never eaten (or even seen) rapini, you might be wondering just exactly what it is anyway.
Rapini (pronounced rap ee’ nee) is a leafy green vegetable that is in the cruciferous vegetable family (Brassica), along with broccoli and cauliflower, as well as the turnip family of vegetables.
It looks a bit like broccoli but has smaller buds on top of longer stems. This is what it looks like when you buy it.
When you buy rapini, look for firm stems and fresh, not wilted leaves. The buds should be nice and tight. If they have the beginnings of yellow on them, the rapini is getting old.
Rapini is a slightly bitter tasting vegetable that is used a lot in Mediterranean cuisines. It pairs well with those quintessential Mediterranean flavors – garlic, onions, pine nuts and lemon juice – and those are the flavors you will find in this particular recipe.
As a member of the cruciferous vegetable family, rapini is a very healthy vegetable to include in our diets. It is high in iron, calcium, and potassium.
It’s also rich in vitamins A, C, and K.
Eating rapini has many health benefits for us. It helps to boost the immune system, it can improve your bone density, and it regulates your blood pressure.
One caveat to eating lots of rapini for some people: If you are taking blood thinners, keep in mind that rapini is high in Vitamin K, which helps to thin your blood. People on blood thinners need to be mindful of how much Vitamin K they are taking in all forms. Greens like spinach are also high in Vitamin K.
That said, for the rest of us rapini is an excellent vegetable to eat on a regular basis.
I like to rotate my cruciferous vegetables so I am not eating the same ones over and over. So I’ll roast some cauliflower one night, steam broccoli another night and sauté rapini on another night. All of them are so good and good for us.
How to Cook Rapini
Cooking rapini is very easy. It is all edible, except for the tough, woody end of the stem. So just cut the woody end off, then chop it into slightly smaller pieces if you want. You can also leave the stems long, which makes for a great presentation on the plate.
Rapini is wonderful either steamed or sautéed in a pan with a bit of olive oil.
You can serve it plain or top it with a few great ingredients like we have here.
Why this Rapini Recipe Works
A few additions to the pan are all you need to make rapini taste great.
You can drizzle a bit of extra virgin olive oil over it before serving. Simple I know but it will taste fantastic.
When you are thinking of what to put with rapini, think Mediterranean flavors like we have here in our sautéed rapini recipe.
In this case we are using onions, garlic, olive oil and lemon juice to add wonderful savory flavors to the rapini.
I add toasted pine nuts to the top just before serving. The pine nuts add a nice crunch and wonderful flavor to the vegetable dish.
Pine nuts can be very expensive. If you don’t want to buy them you can replace them with chopped walnuts or almonds, or leave them out altogether. The nuts do add a lot of flavor and I love the crunch, so I would suggest you add some kind of nuts.
You will also find a recipe variation below to make rapini and fennel. Rapini and fennel are wonderful together.
It took me a while to like fennel. It has a licorice taste that some of us have to get used to.
That said, it pairs really well with rapini. There is something about the bitterness of rapini with the licorice taste of fennel that really works.
Don’t let the word “bitter” keep you from enjoying rapini. We need all the flavors in a well balanced diet: sweet, sour, bitter and salty.
A bit of bitter taste is not only delicious, it’s also a sign of a healthy food. Bitter foods like rapini are very healthy for us. And the taste is really not that bitter, especially when you blend it with the other flavors found in this recipe, like onions, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil.
So get out the rapini and take a trip to the Mediterranean with this yummy recipe. I hope you enjoy it.
Sautéed Rapini Recipe
- 1 pound rapini
- 2 onions
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes, or more if you want it spicier
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 5 tablespoons Italian parsley, finely chopped
- salt and pepper to taste
- 3 tablespoons pine nuts
- Cut off and discard the tough bottom of the rapini stems (probably about 2 inches). Coarsely chop the rest or leave the stems long. Wash the rapini and dry it a bit.
- Peel and slice the onions. Peel and dice the garlic.
- Heat the oil in a large, heavy bottomed frying pan on medium low heat and add the rapini, onions, red pepper flakes and garlic. Cover the pan and cook for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the lemon juice, parsley, salt and pepper. Place the mixture in a serving bowl or plate.
- Toast the pine nuts in the hot pan until they are golden brown. Watch them carefully as they toast so the nuts don't burn.
- Add the pine nuts to the rapini, reserving a few toasted pine nuts to add to the top to serve.
- Serves 4 to 6.
Recipe Variation: Rapini and Fennel
- Instead of using all rapini, try 1/2 pound of rapini and 1 fennel bulb. Cut off the fennel stems, cut the bulb in half and core it. Slice it thinly.
If you like this sautéed rapini recipe you might also want to try our cauliflower and broccoli cheese. It a delicious cruciferous vegetable recipe too.
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