Hand drawn image of Cime di rapa

Cime di rapa

Brassica rapa cymosa

Cime di rapa (know as rapini or broccoli rabe) is a brassica, prized in Italy for its sweet and slightly bitter taste. Literally translated as 'turnip greens', they have have long and lightly serrated leaves with sporadic edible florets hidden in the leaves. Picked young, the leaves, stalks and florets can be eaten. The stalks will take slightly longer to cook than the leaves; they can be lightly fried, boiled or steamed.

In the kitchen


Cime di rapa is best stored in a bag in the fridge and used within 3-4 days.

Prep & Cooking tips

Wash well, as it may arrive with a little of our red clay soil still attached. You can separate the leaves, stalks and florets to cook separately, or just use it as whole pieces. Any large stalks or florets can be sliced to make them easier to cook. You only need cut away any sad-looking root ends or stalk tips.

You can boil, steam or fry these greens; nothing should take more than a few mins. The leaves will cook quicker, so you can remove them and start the stems and florets first. However, they will generally be happy cooked together; they are arguably better with a faint bite left in the stem. Dress them as you would spinach, chard or purple sprouting broccoli.

Easy ideas

  1. Braised side The most universal recipe seems to be wilting the stalks, leaves and florets gently in olive oil with plenty of garlic, dried chilli, salt and black pepper. A squeeze of lemon wouldn’t go amiss to serve.

  2. Pasta Cook as described above and use some good crusty bread to mop up the juices, or pile it onto hot bruschetta with a little cold fresh mozzarella or ricotta to finish. Alternatively, add a few chopped anchovy fillets to the pan, toss with some freshly cooked pasta and top with parmesan. It partners perfectly with pork; fold it through some warm white beans to serve with a pork chop or bangers of your choice.

  3. Spinach substitute The leaves can be used in place of spinach for many dishes. The taste will be bitter and more robust, but they work wonders wilted into a stew, curry or soup at the end of cooking. We have even seen it used on a Florentine-style pizza.

Goes well with

Acidic flavours (vinegars, lemon juice, orange)

Herbs (bay, chervil, coriander, dill, mint, parsley, rosemary, thyme)

Nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios)

Spices (black onion seeds, chilli, ginger, coriander seeds, cumin, fennel seeds, paprika)

Dairy (mozzarella, feta, butter, parmesan)

Cured meats, pork & chicken

Sesame (including tahini)



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