What is the difference between broccoli, broccoli rabe, Chinese broccoli, and broccolini?
– Shy a doctorate in Produce
Dear Dr Prod,
Broccoli is a cool-season vegetable that’s been around for 2000 years. Especially the Broccoli in Bossy’s local Acme which is probably a few decades older than that. Broccoli comes from the Italian word brocco meaning arm branch. Among its relatives are cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower. Broccoli was first grown commercially in the United States in 1920. Which is crazy good timing because a few months later the country celebrated its first epidemic of food-related flatulence.
Broccoli rabe is related to the turnip and has a pungent flavor. Broccoli rabe is also known as rapini, broccoletti di rape, broccoletto, and that smoky green stuff in the middle of God’s gift to sandwiches.
Chinese Broccoli is not actually Broccoli at all, but rather Chinese Kale and it has a very peppery flavor. Chinese Broccoli is also known as Gai Lan – or #72 with Garlic Sauce and a side of White Rice.
Broccolini is a hybrid vegetable that is a cross between broccoli and Chinese Kale. Broccolini’s shelf life is longer than traditional broccoli and its stems less woody. In specialty food stores it is sometimes labeled Baby Brocolli – or as Bossy simply refers to it: Baby Brocco Broccoletti Rapini di Gai Lan Broc Broc.