What is a rabe?

As in broccoli rabe. I think it’s pronounced “rob”. Interesting that dictionary.com and wikipedia were of no help. I’m sure one of you guys will have an excellent answer.


  1. broccoli rabe - plant grown for its pungent edible leafy shoots
  2. broccoli rabe - slightly bitter dark green leaves and clustered flower buds

It’s a leafy vegetable, used in Italian cooking. Here’s the wikipedia article about it:

The common confusion is that broccoli rabe is some sort of preparation of the vegetable broccoli when in fact broccoli rabe is a completely different vegetable.

That’s exactly what I was confused about. I first heard about it on some Food Network show where some guy was making Philly cheesesteaks and he put “a broccoli rabe” on one of the sandwiches. It looked like a broccoli cheese preparation, and he referred to it as one would a preparation. Then I heard it again used in the same context. I think both incidents were on Bobby Flay’s Throwdown.

Take that ignorance!

The botanical family Brassica is a confusing mess, especially when approaching it from the culinary direction - for example, some things colloquially called ‘cabbage’ are technically the same as some things called ‘mustard’ and other things called ‘turnip’ - all that’s happened is that various cultivars have been developed to emphasise or exaggerate different attributes of the same species.

Broccoli (the tree-shaped green kind) is Brassica oleracea - so is ordinary cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kohl rabi and kale.

Broccoli rabe is Brassica rapa - as are Chinese cabbages and turnips (but not swede/rutabaga, which is a variety of Brassica napus.

It’s made even more confusing by the fact that these species will quite readily interbreed to produce fertile offspring.

Let me get this straight:
cabbage = cabbage
brussel sprouts = Mini-cabbage
broccoli = bunches of nano-cabbage
kohl rabi = giant mini-cabbage
cauliflower = bunches of fucked-up white nano-cabbage
kale = giant leaves of cabbage
mustard = proto-cabbage

Broccoli rabe/Rapini = Something completely different
:frowning: :confused:

Pretty much (except maybe the mustard).

But not completely different, no. Different enough to warrant being called a different species, but only just - as I said, it’s a confusing mess and rather than being nice species consisting of distinct and uniform members, they’re huge diverse somewhat-overlapping splodges of widely-variable members.

If I ever get a TV cooking show, I am so using this!

Well to be more accurate:

broccoli = juicy green cabbage flowers and stems
cauliflower= juicy white cabbage flowers and stems
kohl rabi = mutant giant cabbage stem

Some rabbis are women, and some of those are gorgeous. When a rabbi is a babe, she’s a rabe. Simple as that, though I suppose some guys call them RILFs.

And if a gorgeous rabbi became President, they’d call her Rabe-re-ham Lincoln.

I don’t know much about botany, but I can correct an error here. I don’t know what dish the guy on the food show was making. It may even have been a tasty dish. But whatever it was, it absolutely wasn’t a Philly cheesesteak. The only vegetables on or in a Philly cheesesteak are mushrooms and onions (both optional), and maybe, maybe peppers.

Next you’ll be telling me that he sliced the bun in two. shudders

Nice OP. I was actually going to post this very thing a couple of days ago.

Because I had some at a restaurant.

It looks like broccoli with tiny little florets and a long stringy stem. It was delicious, but quite bitter.

So could you say the cabbage/broccoli family is kind of analogous to the chihuahua and mastiff both belonging to the dog family?


So far, no one (except AskNott :)) has explained the word “rabe”.

If anyone can answer that, here’s a related question: Is broccoli rabe a type of broccoli, or it is a type of rabe? In other words, which word is modifying which?

Mushrooms are vegetables?

Broccoli rabe is formed from the Italian broccoli di rapa, which translates as flowering tops of the turnip. So says my unabridged Merriam Webster.

Well, they’re not animals or minerals, but I think I know what you mean; they’re taxonomically distinct from plants, IIRC.

Culinarily, yes. Taxonomically, they’re as different from vegetables as we are, but by that definition, the bun is a vegetable too.