Rapini is an excellent source of vitamins C and K, folate, calcium, potassium and beta-carotene. Just half a cup (125 ml) of cooked rapini has 31 milligrams of vitamin C (35 to 40% of a day's worth!), 60 micrograms of folate (15% of your daily requirement) and 1.8 milligrams of beta-carotene.
Rapini also contains a phytochemical called lutein, an antioxidant that protects the eye's retina from oxidative damage caused that could lead to cataract formation. Studies show that people who consume the most lutein from their diet have a 20 to 50 percent lower risk of cataracts compared with people whose diets contain the least.
Adding lutein-rich vegetables to your diet such as rapini, spinach, kale and romaine lettuce may even slow the onset of age-related macular degeneration, a disease that attacks the center of the retina and diminishes the ability to see fine details.
Rapini is also good for your bones thanks to its sizable vitamin K content. A Tufts University study found that women who consumed the most vitamin K had significantly better bone mineral density compared to those whose diets contained the least.
Scientists speculate it takes 200 micrograms of vitamin K to help keep bones from thinning, which is more than the official recommended intake of 90 (females) and 120 (males) micrograms per day. One half cup serving of rapini makes a hefty contribution delivering 217 micrograms.
Canada's Food Guide recommends that adults and kids eat at least one serving of leafy green vegetables every day to help boost their intake of vitamins A and C.
Here's the nutrient breakdown for one half cup (125 ml) serving of cooked rapini:
|Fibre|| 2.4 g
|Vitamin C||31 mg|
|Calcium|| 100 mg
|Potassium|| 292 mg
(Source: Canadian Nutrient File 2007b)
Rapini is scientifically classified as Brassica rapa, and, though it resembles broccoli is actually closely related to the turnip.
Other common names for rapini include broccoli raab and broccoli di rape. Most rapini found in Canada comes from California, where it's available year round with the peak season being from late fall to early spring.
To keep rapini at its freshest, wrap it in paper towel and store in a perforated plastic bag in the refrigerator vegetable crisper for up to five days.
Wash rapini only before using it. If stored wet, the excess moisture will cause rapini to deteriorate faster.
Rapini can also be frozen after it's blanched in boiling water for 2 minutes. After blanching, drain the rapini, allow it to cool, then put it in a sealed container. It can be stored in the freezer for up to a year.
First, rinse and trim a quarter of an inch from the bottom of the stems and cut the stalks crosswise into 2-inch pieces.
Rapini, like other leafy greens, can be prepared by blanching, braising, sautéing or steaming.
To blanch rapini, drop into salted (optional) boiling water and remove after two minutes.
To braise, put rapini in a skillet with just enough liquid to cover it. Let the rapini simmer for 10 to 20 minutes on low heat.
To sauté rapini, add the cut vegetable to a lightly oiled hot pan and heat for three minutes while stirring constantly.
To steam rapini, put it in a pot with very little water, cover and heat on low just until the leaves wilt. Or place uncooked rapini in a steamer basket and cook over simmering water until wilted.
Rapini has an assertive but pleasant bitter taste that mellows with cooking. (If you find the taste of rapini too bitter, blanch it before sauteeing or adding to pastas and stir-fries.)
It pairs nicely with crushed garlic and chilli flakes and is considered a versatile vegetable that can be used in many dishes.
A descendent of a wild herb, rapini (a.k.a. broccoli rabe) was originally grown in China or the Meditterranean basin. Now available year-round in Canada, rapini is considered a nutritional powerhouse and culinary gem with aa delicious flavour.
Start one of Leslie's Nutrition/Weight Loss Programs today!