Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Rappi, what are you?

There's a wonderful green vegetable on the shelf at our local Wegman's. It's name is something of a mystery... aliases include broccoli rabe, rappini, rappi, broccoli di rappa. Not to be confused with broccolini, which looks a bit similar but is actually something else. I'm pretty sure.

Rappi is apparently a closer relative of the turnip, but has little florettes very reminiscent of broccoli tucked into its leaves. It can be a little inaccessible, but with a little tweaking, it's a wonderful side dish.

At Wegman's, rappi can be bought by the bunch or in a bag, presorted and chopped. If bought by the bag, it's ready to go. By the bunch, we wash and then chop into 1 inch sections, starting at the top and working our way down into the stem. As is common with greens, buy more than you think you will need because it will wilt down to almost nothing.

The key to curbing its bitterness (as with most greens) is to blanche in heavily salted water. This will make the color pop and take away much of the assertive, unpleasant, or (generously termed) acquired tastes. After blanching, drain and lightly wring to remove the moisture. Then saute in a pan with some olive oil, crushed red pepper flakes and fresh garlic.

Darling Husband made this lovely side dish to go with our couscous and chicken cordon bleu tonight. I halved chicken breasts horizontally, then butterflied the pieces and pounded them into large planks. Onto this I layered three very thin slices of brown sugar ham and one slice of swiss cheese. I rolled up my chicken top to bottom, like a jelly roll, and secured with a tooth pick. Into a pan with some olive oil, covered to promote even cooking, and left to get golden and happy. We were particularly fortunate as some of the sugars from the ham came out and caramelized a bit on the chicken.

It sounds much fancier than it is; it sounds harder than it is, too. Truthfully, I made the chicken in just a couple minutes while waiting for the AAA tow truck to arrive to apply first aide to the battery in our car. It helps that the chicken breasts were cleaned before being popped into sandwich bags and frozen in individual serving sizes. All I had to do was defrost in a bowl of water in the fridge overnight and boom, ready to go.

As a finished product, the sweetness and saltiness of the chicken cordon bleu was nicely mellowed by the slightly nutty couscous, which itself was livened by the garlicy rappi. A lovely meal, shared by my family around the table.


  1. I have never had rappi. In fact, I had never even heard of it. If I don't like broccoli, am I likely to feel the same about rappi?

  2. I would suggest that you would likely still like rappi. If you didn't like spinach, that would be of more concern. Steer clear of broccolini, however, which are like long-stemmed, thin, non-clustered broccoli florettes and definatly taste more like broccoli. Rappi is far more leaf and stem than florette.