What is the Best Substitute for Broccoli Rabe?

by Charlie
Broccoli Rabe

There’s a reason why green, leafy vegetables have become the go-to choice for people who want to depict healthy eating. They contain many nutrients and are generally good for your body. 

Of the many leafy greens available, broccoli rabe is definitely one popular choice. It is one of the rare greens that match healthy characteristics with delicious taste. Sadly, broccoli rabe won’t be available every time and you might need to get a substitute for it. 

So, what is the best substitute for broccoli rabe? Mustard greens are the best substitutes for broccoli rabe as they provide an identical taste and similar health benefits. Since most people substitute broccoli rabe for health or taste reasons, mustard greens are the perfect substitute either way.

An Overview of Broccoli Rabe

Broccoli rabe is a leafy green that belongs to the cruciferous family of vegetables. Also known as rapini, it has buds that resemble those of the normal broccoli. However, it doesn’t have the broccoli’s characteristic large head. 

While broccoli rabe is especially popular in Italian cuisine, it is consumed worldwide. Its bitter flavor is a great pairing with other ingredients that have strong flavors- such as garlic and sausage. Another benefit of broccoli rabe is that you can eat the entire plant. So, you don’t have to sort out parts of it. 

You will also love that broccoli rabe is easy to cook. Most experts will recommend that you blanch it before you start cooking, but rest assured that there are different cooking methods available with this one. Blanching is especially great since it helps to reduce the rabies bitterness and prevents it from overwhelming the flavor of the other ingredients in your dish. 

Lastly, broccoli rabe is favored because it has several health benefits. Its high water volume is great for people who struggle with dehydration, and it also has a high fiber content to improve your digestive system. With full antioxidant content, broccoli rabe improves your immune system. 

Why Substitute Broccoli Rabe?

  • Non-availability: The primary challenge with broccoli rabe is that it isn’t always available. If you can’t find it around, you will need something to stand in. 
  • A change of ingredients: If you’re the type to experiment with cooking, you could want to try something different in your recipe. 
  • Cost: Broccoli rabe is quite expensive. If you’re cooking on a budget, it might not do well for you. 

Options for Broccoli Rabe Substitutes

Best Overall Substitute for Broccoli Rabe: Mustard Greens

Mustard greens act as the ideal substitute for broccoli rabe. They look and taste alike, and they are also ideal for different situations and uses. 

In fact, while broccoli rabe shares its name with broccoli, it is actually more similar to mustard greens. They both have the same earthy taste, with a touch of bitterness that might help to even out your meal. 

However, mustard greens also provide a bit of a peppery taste. This characteristic makes them especially ideal for sautéing vegetables and making pasta. Mustard greens are great, whether you eat them raw or cooked. Of course, since this considers their use in meals, you will most likely want to cook them first. 

All in all, there is no downside to using mustard greens as a substitute for broccoli rabe. It is highly versatile, and it provides a lot of health benefits for you as well. For instance, mustard greens contain bile acid, which will help you to lower the content of cholesterol in your body. 

With the same health benefits and a similar taste profile, there’s pretty much no reason why you shouldn’t be able to substitute mustard greens for broccoli rabe. 

Best Substitute in Salads: Collard Greens

When it comes to making salads, there’s hardly anything that comes close to collard greens. As substitutes for broccoli rabe, these greens will be more than ideal. 

Collard greens are a member of the cabbage family. They are the oldest greens in the family, and they provide pretty much the same thing as broccoli rabe – a mixture of health benefits and a delicious taste. 

Collard greens come with a tough stem, which most people remove when cooking. They are ideal for pasta, salads, and more. They can also provide a great side dish for sautéed dishes like meat. Thanks to their bitter taste, they can help to balance out flavors in your dish. Note that the bitter taste tends to mellow down a bit once the greens are cooked, making the greens more earthy. 

In terms of health benefits, collard greens help to balance out your cholesterol levels. They also contain magnesium, which will help to treat symptoms of depression. 

Most Versatile Substitute: Chinese Broccoli

Also known as Chinese kale, Chinese broccoli is a leafy vegetable that comes with glossy blue-green leaves. It is a brassica vegetable, and it provides a wide array of nutritious properties that you can enjoy. 

If you ever run out of broccoli rabe, you should be able to use Chinese broccoli. It is great to use in steamed and sautéed form, and its slightly bitter taste fits right into the broccoli rabe profile. 

Note that Chinese broccoli has much larger leaves than broccoli rabe. However, that shouldn’t be much of a problem for you. It also works in any meal at all. 

Chinese broccoli is a rich source of several nutritious components, including fiber, vitamin E, and beta carotene.

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