If you’re trying to eat healthily, you’re probably already familiar with broccoli rabe.
This vegetable is very healthy and has a particular taste.
Therefore, it can be an excellent addition to your menu.
You can use it in many recipes, from the simplest ones to some requiring a little more kitchen skills.
Broccoli rabe is a common ingredient in many Italian dishes, but also dishes originating from other Mediterranean cuisines.
However, these vegetables are sometimes tricky to find in some parts of the world, and you may need to substitute them.
Fortunately, many different alternatives can replace broccoli rabe. Some are similar in taste, some in texture, and some in nutritional composition.
What is Broccoli Rabe?
Broccoli rabe is a vegetable that grows mainly in the Mediterranean.
It is considered a green leafy vegetable characterized by stems that taper at the top and large outer leaves.
The flowers are smaller than regular broccoli, and the taste is bitter, earthy, nutty, and spicy.
If broccoli rabe tastes too peppery for you, cook it to make it milder.
The texture of broccoli rabe is very soft, which makes it suitable for various dishes.
In some regions, broccoli rabe is also known as rapini. It is generally considered a mix of turnips and broccoli.
When preparing broccoli rabe, washing the leaves and stems well is crucial.
Then you can serve them raw or briefly blanch them before serving.
Broccoli rabe is a source of potassium, iron, calcium, and vitamins C, K, and A.
Broccoli rabe is often eaten sautéed or braised with garlic and olive oil.
There are many ways to prepare this vegetable as a tasty dish, and it is an important ingredient in many specialties in the regional cuisines of the Mediterranean.
Why and What to Replace Broccoli Rabe With?
Broccoli rabe can be challenging to find in some markets.
Also, some people do not like this vegetable’s spicy and bitter taste, and some do not like its soft texture.
Also, some people are allergic to this vegetable, although not many of them.
Another downside to broccoli rabe is that it is more expensive than regular broccoli and similar vegetables.
These are all possible reasons for wanting to find a substitute for the broccoli rabe your recipe calls for.
Fortunately, this is not difficult, as many vegetables have similar textures, flavor profiles, nutritional values, and properties.
Some of these alternatives are more readily available than broccoli rabe, but some may be challenging.
As for the price, the situation varies, so among the offered alternatives, there are cheaper and more expensive vegetables than broccoli rabe.
One thing is sure: all the alternatives we will list are incredibly healthy and beneficial for your body.
Try to include at least some of them in your regular diet to increase your intake of vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients.
Best Broccoli Rabe Substitutes
Broccoli rabe can be cooked in different ways and combined with various flavors.
Therefore, several factors should be considered when choosing the best alternative to broccoli rabe in your recipe.
First of all, the reason why you are substituting broccoli rabe is important.
You may not like the aggressive taste of this vegetable or its soft texture.
Maybe your supermarket doesn’t have these vegetables, or you’re looking for a cheaper substitute.
You should keep in mind that not all broccoli rabe alternatives will suit every dish equally.
It primarily depends on the other ingredients, as well as on the way the dish is prepared.
Following your reasons and the recipe you are preparing, choose the substitute that suits you best.
On the list of best alternatives to broccoli rabe are broccolini, chard greens, mustard greens, spinach, turnip greens, collard greens, endives, escarole, arugula, and kale.
The first vegetable that can serve as an alternative to broccoli rabe is broccolini.
Many people confuse these two vegetables, which are actually quite different.
Broccolini has fewer leaves than broccoli rabe, and its flowers look different.
Broccolini is more commonly available in most grocery stores than broccoli rabe.
There is not much difference between these two vegetables regarding nutrients and price. Both broccoli rabe and broccolini are exceptionally healthy foods full of minerals and vitamins. Also, both types of vegetables are slightly more expensive than similar types, such as broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower.
This vegetable is a good substitute for broccoli rabe if you change this ingredient because you don’t like its taste.
Namely, the taste of broccolini is much milder and more sweet than bitter, while the texture is similar to broccoli rabe.
This hybrid vegetable, a cross between Chinese broccoli and regular broccoli, is prepared in the same way as broccoli rabe. However, you will probably need to adjust the cooking time somewhat.
Broccolini cooks shorter than broccoli rabe, so don’t let your vegetables overcook.
You can boil, steam, stir-fry, or blanch it. You can also serve it raw, especially if it is part of a salad. In any case, don’t forget to wash it well beforehand.
For many dishes, a good alternative to broccoli rabe is chard greens.
This vegetable is another good substitute for broccoli rabe if you don’t like its sharp and spicy taste, as the taste of chard greens is much milder.
Also, you can probably find this vegetable much more easily at your local farmers market or grocery store, and it’s usually less expensive than broccoli rabe.
Be careful when cooking chard greens as this vegetable takes very little time to cook.
Cooking for too long could make it bitter and cause it to change color.
Also, some beneficial nutrients that chard greens contain are lost if the vegetable is cooked too long.
Chard greens are usually sold in bunches.
To ensure chard greens are fresh when you buy them, they must be bright green or reddish and soft to the touch.
You can prepare it in several ways, but it tastes best when you bathe it like spinach.
This vegetable is often eaten raw, in salads, or on sandwiches.
Chard greens are a good source of vitamins C, A, and K, as well as iron, manganese, magnesium, and potassium.
This vegetable is extremely low in calories, so it is an excellent choice for those watching their weight.
Chard greens go well with other greens and many vegetables, but also with white meat and sea fish.
If you like broccoli rabe’s spicy and peppery taste and can’t find it at your local market, we recommend using mustard greens as an alternative.
Mustard greens have the same sharp, even slightly more intense taste as broccoli rabe, and its texture is similar to this vegetable.
It makes it one of the best alternatives to broccoli rabe in many dishes, primarily when used raw.
The leaves of this plant are generally curly and thick and are sold in bunches.
If the raw taste of mustard greens is too strong for you, cook them to make them milder.
This vegetable tastes excellent in all dishes in which it is fried with onions or garlic.
It can also be marinated, blanched, or cooked in other ways.
Some people enjoy raw mustard greens in sandwiches, salads, stews, or soups.
Mustard greens contain large amounts of calcium and vitamin E. They also have many antioxidants that protect the body and improve the appearance of the skin.
If you’re having trouble finding broccoli rabe and some of the alternatives offered at your local farmers market or grocery store, you’ll surely find spinach.
These healthy vegetables are widely available and usually very affordable.
In addition to having a mild and neutral taste, spinach goes well with many foods, so it can be a suitable substitute for broccoli rabe in many dishes.
Spinach can be eaten raw or cooked.
A significant advantage of spinach is that you can buy it frozen at any time of the year.
Frozen spinach is usually already chopped, although you can also buy frozen spinach leaves.
It greatly facilitates the preparation of many dishes.
Remember that fresh spinach has a more intense flavor than canned and frozen spinach.
If you’re substituting spinach for broccoli rabe in a dish that doesn’t have a lot of intense flavors and spices, it’s better to use fresh rather than frozen spinach.
Spinach is a tasty addition to many salads, especially when it is young.
If you fry it with olive oil, onions, or garlic, spinach will take on a specific note and make every dish more fragrant and tasty.
Spinach goes well with all kinds of pasta and different sauces.
Also, spinach is an excellent alternative to broccoli rabe in cheese, meat, fish, or seafood dishes.
Although spinach does not have the same flavor profile as broccoli rabe, it will work well in many dishes as a substitute.
However, for people who like broccoli rabe’s bitter and peppery taste, we recommend looking for other alternatives and avoiding this tender, green leafy vegetable.
Another substitute for broccoli rabe is turnip greens.
This vegetable can be eaten raw but is much more often cooked.
You can find it in the grocery store’s vegetable section or at the farmer’s market, and its price varies from country to country and depending on the season.
Genetically speaking, this plant is actually the closest relative of broccoli rabe.
That’s why their nutritional values are very similar and don’t differ much in texture.
Turnip greens are part of the turnip that grows above the ground.
It may sound surprising to you, but many people do not even know that this part of the turnip is also edible, and they usually remove it and throw it away.
If you like the texture and taste of broccoli rabe, you’ll also like turnip greens because they’re not that different.
Like the previous alternatives, turnip greens taste even better when fried with garlic, onions, and olive oil.
If you haven’t tried this herb before, include it on your menu because it is very healthy and great for your diet.
Collard greens belong to the cabbage family and are relatively widely available in grocery stores worldwide.
If you want your broccoli rabe substitute to have the same earthy and bitter flavor, use collard greens for your recipe.
Many people find collard greens to be the best substitute for broccoli rabe, especially in dishes where it is used raw.
Use this vegetable in salads and sandwiches.
Their flavor changes slightly when collard greens are cooked, but it’s still a good alternative to broccoli rabe.
You can serve collard greens with meat, pasta, or fish as a side dish.
Although the stem of this plant is also edible, it is not usually used in food; only the leaves are cooked.
Of all the substitutes for broccoli rabe, collard greens are probably the easiest to find and the most affordable.
The list of possible alternatives to broccoli rabe continues with endives.
You can use this vegetable in many ways, cooked and raw.
There is a difference between the taste of raw and cooked endives.
When this vegetable is raw, it is very close to the taste of broccoli rabe and is crunchy and slightly bitter.
However, when boiled, fried, or cooked, endives take on a sweet taste reminiscent of nuts and become much softer, and the crunchiness is lost.
Endives are primarily used as a substitute for broccoli rabe in salads.
Although this alternative works best in these dishes, it can also be used in many other dishes, such as stews, soups, pasta, fish, or meat.
Many people confuse escarole with lettuce because of their very similar appearance.
However, these are two completely different plants.
Like many other herbs on this list, escarole is eaten cooked and raw.
However, whether you cook escarole or eat it raw also depends on the part of the plant you use, not just your taste.
The inner leaves of escarole have a milder taste, so they do not need to be cooked.
You can eat them raw, for example, in a salad.
In contrast, the outer leaves of this plant usually have a somewhat bitter taste that few people like.
That is why these leaves are usually boiled to soften their taste.
In almost any recipe, you can use escarole as an alternative to broccoli rabe.
You don’t have to adjust the recipe to substitute an ingredient almost at all, and you can cook escarole for just as long as you would cook broccoli rabe with your recipe.
This vegetable is extremely healthy and full of minerals and vitamins.
One of the downsides of this vegetable is that it is often difficult to find in some parts of the world.
Because of this, you can also expect escarole to be expensive if you find it in your grocery store.
However, if you find it, try using it as a substitute for broccoli rabe because you’ll probably like it a lot.
Arugula is one of the best you’ll find if you’re looking for an ingredient to replace broccoli rabe in a salad.
These two herbs are close in the flavor profile.
Arugula also has a bitter and sharp taste, although it is somewhat more acidic than broccoli rabe.
The advantage of this vegetable is that it is relatively easy to find in the store, although its price varies depending on the season.
Arugula is full of nutrients, such as minerals and vitamins.
It is healthy for teeth and bones and gives the body the necessary hydration on sunny days.
Although arugula has proven to be the best substitute for broccoli rabe in salads, you can also use it in various other specialties.
If you’re making pasta that calls for broccoli rabe, you can use kale as an alternative.
This vegetable belongs to the cabbage family and will work well as a substitute for broccoli rabe in many dishes, but pasta is the best option.
If you love the taste of broccoli rabe, kale will be a worthy substitute because it has a similar sharpness and bitterness.
Kale is a highly healthy vegetable that has a good effect on many organs.
It is widely available and inexpensive.
The only potential disadvantage of this vegetable is its specific smell when cooked, which bothers many people.
If you are among the people who do not like this smell, use kale as a substitute for broccoli rabe in recipes that do not require heat treatment.
No one likes to lose a key ingredient in a recipe while cooking.
However, no ingredient is irreplaceable.
With some skill, creativity, and knowledge, any dish can be prepared with a few substitutions.
If you’re preparing a dish that requires broccoli rabe and is unavailable at your local supermarket, several alternatives exist.
Also, maybe you’ve tried dishes with broccoli rabe, but you don’t like its peppery and bitter taste or specific texture.
There are ways to replace this ingredient with something that suits you better and still has a delicious and healthy dish you’ll enjoy.
Suitable substitutes for broccoli rabe are broccolini, chard greens, mustard greens, spinach, turnip greens, collard greens, endives, escarole, arugula, and kale.
Some of these ingredients are so similar to broccoli rabe that you won’t even know the difference.
Some are milder in taste, so they will suit those who like more neutral flavor profiles.
Many of these ingredients are easier to find than broccoli rabe, and some are even cheaper.
Some of these vegetables differ from broccoli rabe in their texture, so you must change the cooking method or cook them for less time than the recipe says.
Some herbs from this list are suitable for salads and pasta care and can be used in any dish.
Study this list of the best broccoli rabe substitutes and find the best alternative for you.
Don’t forget that all the vegetables on this list are extremely rich in vitamins and minerals, so you won’t go wrong no matter which one you choose.
Try all the substitutes available, and you may find your new favorite vegetable among them.
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