While broccoli rabe (rapini) has become popular in the US and is usually available in supermarkets as well as at the local farmer’s markets, there may be times when you may not find it. These leafy greens with tiny broccoli florets are frequently used in Italian dishes like pasta. They also make for a delicious side dish when they are sautéed with garlic and olive oil.
Top Broccoli Rabe Substitutes
The top broccoli rabe substitutes are spinach, kale, turnip greens, mustard greens, escarole, endive, chicory, and Chinese broccoli. Other options include dandelion greens, collard greens, and broccolini.
You can substitute broccoli rabe with mustard greens when you are cooking pasta or while sautéing it with other vegetables like potatoes and beans. While broccoli rabe shares its name with broccoli, it is genetically much closer to mustard and turnip greens and has a similar earthy, bitter taste.
Turnip greens have a signature spicy flavor which makes it a good substitute.
These hearty greens can be a good substitute of rabe in salads, in pasta with meat, or in sautéed side dishes.
Chinese broccoli, with its large leaves, thick stalks, and tiny florets, makes for a good substitute as it is delicious when steamed or sautéed.
Use endives as a substitute in salads as they have a crunchy texture and a bitter taste. However, remember that they become slightly sweet on cooking.
You can also substitute broccoli rabe with dandelion greens. Use the younger dandelion greens with shorter stems as the larger leaves are fibrous and overtly bitter.
If you are making pasta for children who do not enjoy the bitterness of broccoli rabe, kale or spinach make a good substitute.
Arugula & Broccoli
While this combination may not be the best substitute, it works well in salads because of the texture of broccoli and the spiciness of arugula.
Large-leafed chicory is bitter and spicy to taste, which mellows when grilled or sautéed. You can use this as a substitute in salads and as a side dish.
Even though broccoli rabe is not closely related to broccoli, the latter does work as a good substitute. Broccolini and broccoli are milder in taste than broccoli rabe and may take a little longer to cook.