Steamed cime di rapa (rapini) with garlic and fennel

Italian cime di rapa rapini leaf greens


This s not a vegetable for the faint of heart. Also named Broccoli rabe, Rapini or sprouting broccoli, the cime taste peppery, nutty, intensely herbal and slightly bitter. If overcooked they becomes unpleasantly bitter and mushy.

Just like the world-famous rucola (or arugula or rocket) the Cime need a little attention in preparation and pairing with other ingredients or dishes. Traditionally used with orecchiette pasta from Puglia, the rapini are wonderful also in combination with beans, roast meats and sausage.


  • 1/2 Kg (1 pound) cime di rapa
  • 1 large clove garlic chopped very finely or minced using a garlic press
  • 3 tablespoon EVO oil
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • chili pepper flakes to taste (optional)

Buy the cime di rapa when young and tender otherwise the stems will need a longer cooking time than the leaves. Cook the vegetables in boiling salted water until crisp-tender, 4 to 6 min. Drain and rinse quickly with cold water.

cime di rapa winter vegetables from Italy

Using your hands,  squeeze lightly to remove excess water.  Chop roughly and set aside.

Heat 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil oil in shallow skillet over low heat. Add garlic, chili pepper flakes and fennel seeds and sauté until fragrant, about 1/2 minute. Make sure that the garlic does not burn.

Add the cime di rapa and sauté until heated through, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a warm serving dish.
Serves 2-3


  1. Fabulous! Thank you for this, I will do it tomorrow to go with the rather odd low-carb shepherds pie I have made! xxxx

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