12 Best Broccoli Rabe Substitutes With Images

Broccoli rabe, also known as rapini, is a popular broccoli variety in the US. Its green leaves have a nutty and bitter taste.

This leafy green broccoli floret, which belongs to the Brassicaceae family, is typically used in most Italian cuisine.

Broccoli rabe vegetables are simple and easy to cook. It can be roasted or sauteed with garlic and olive oil. It is definitely one of the best side dishes you should prepare.

Broccoli Rabe Nutritional Value

Broccoli rabe is rich in vitamins A, C, and K. It is also a good source of calcium, iron, folate, and other minerals. Additionally, this vegetable is loaded with fiber and water that are good for your digestive system. This vegetable is also perfect for those who want to lose weight as it gives you the feeling of being full compared to other vegetables.


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Broccoli rabe shares its name with broccoli vegetable, but it is closely related to turnip greens and mustard.

If this healthy vegetable isn’t available, you can substitute it with Broccolini, Endives, Chicory, Spinach, Arugula, Turnip Greens, Kale, Escarole, Dandelion Greens, Chinese Broccoli, Collard Greens, and Mustard Greens.

12 Best Broccoli Rabe Substitutes

If you are planning to cook broccoli rabe but ran out of stock, select any of the listed broccoli rabe alternatives below.

BROCCOLINI

Broccolini is a baby broccoli, a green veggie that is similar to broccoli. However, it has smaller and longer florets, and thin stalks. Broccolini is a hybrid of broccoli and gai lan, also known as Chinese kale or Chinese broccoli.

The leaves, young stems, flowers, and unopened flower shoots are edible and consumable. It has a sweet taste with the notes of both asparagus and broccoli. But it has a sweeter taste compared to regular broccoli.

Similar to broccoli rabe, broccolini has many health benefits. It is also rich in vitamin C, A, and a significant amount of dietary fiber. Apart from that, broccolini is a good source of calcium, potassium, and iron. 

Broccolini can be eaten raw or cooked. The best cooking methods for this vegetable are a brief saute in a hot pan with a small amount of oil. You can also quickly dip the stems in boiling water. Broccolini can also be steamed, roasted, and grilled. It is definitely a best substitute for any cuisine that calls for broccoli rabe.


ENDIVES

Endive is a leaf vegetable that belongs to the genus Cichorium. It has a slightly bitter taste. Hence, a good alternative for broccoli rabe.

Endive, also known as leaf chicory, is popular in Europe. It contains various vitamins and minerals like vitamins A and K, folate, and kaempferol. It is also a good source of fiber. Just like other alternatives, Endive has very similar health benefits with broccoli rabe. This vegetable helps regulate blood sugar levels, ensures regular bowel movements, prevents severity of insomnia and diabetes, can improve eyesights, and more. 

Endive can be eaten raw or cooked. It has a bitter and crisp flavor when eaten raw, and is a perfect ingredient for salads. Meanwhile, endive tastes mellow, sweet, and nutty when eaten cooked. Endive is indeed a perfect substitute for broccoli rabe.


CHICORY

Chicory is often cultivated for its leaves. It is usually eaten raw as salad leaves. In the US, it is commonly name as curly endive,  but these two species are different. Chicory is usually grown for livestock, and it lives as a wild plant in Europe.

This leafy vegetable is commonly used as a tonic that helps increase urine production. It also helps protect the liver, and balance the tonic effect of coffee.

For those who want to lose weight, chicory is the best alternative as it can be used to lose appetite and upset stomach.

Chicory leaves are best eaten fresh, stir-fried, or served as a vegetable side dish.


SPINACH

Spinach, a member of Chenopodiaceae family, is a leafy green flowering plant that originated in central and western Asia. The spinach leaves are consumable and can be eaten fresh or after being preserved by freezing, canning, or dehydration. 

These leafy greens are also referred to as a Spanish vegetable as they came through Spain.

This vegetable is an ideal substitute for broccoli rabe and provides similar health benefits like other broccoli rabe substitutes. It helps maintain healthy skin, strong bones, and hair. It also lowers the risk for heart failure, aids digestion, and improves blood glucose control especially in diabetics.

This broccoli rabe substitute also helps the human’s immune system. It is among the best sources of magnesium and potassium. 

There are three different cooking methods you can use in preparing spinach. You can steam, sauté, and blanch this vegetable to intensify its delicious flavor.


ARUGULA

Arugula, also known as rocket in British English, an annual plant, is another best broccoli rabe substitute and is widely popular as a salad vegetable. 

It is a species of Eruca in the family of Brassicaceae. It is often used as a leaf vegetable because of its tart, bitter, fresh, and peppery flavor. 

This peppery green vegetable is rich in vitamin C, vitamin A, K, and folate. It also contains dietary fiber, protein, calories, and carbohydrates.

Eating an Arugula dish offers wondrous health benefits. It can prevent the risk of heart disease, helps control weight, reduces the risks of cancer, improves eyesight, helps with digestion, prevents diabetes, and controls blood pressure.

Indeed, a great substitute for broccoli rabe.


TURNIP GREENS

Turnip Greens is a versatile substitute for broccoli rabe. This vegetable is a significant crop of Antebellum, American cuisine. These vegetables are usually grown for their greens and roots. These leafy greens have a spicy flavor which is very unique and tasty. 

Turnip greens contain calories, fat, protein, carbohydrates, and fiber. This vegetable is also a good source of calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc. It provides important vitamins such as Vitamins C, A, K, and folate.

And similar to other broccoli rabe substitutes, it offers several health benefits. It can make your skin and hair healthy, reduce anemia, prevent osteoporosis, prevent the risk of cancer and diabetes, improve digestive system, and others.


KALE

Another good substitute for broccoli rabe is Kale, also known as leaf cabbage. This vegetable belongs to a group of cabbage cultivars usually grown for their edible leaves.  The leaves are either green or purple, in which its central leaves do not form a head. Kale is also considered as closely related to wild cabbage.

Kale plant’s leaves are dry and crunchy and have a strong and earthy taste. Unlike Arugula, kale is not spicy. It also has a slightly more bitter flavor than spinach.

Young Kale plants have thinner, softer leaves, and a mild taste.

Massaging and sautéing vegetables are among the cooking techniques you can use for Kale. 


ESCAROLE

Another best substitute for broccoli rabe is a leafy green vegetable named Escarole. It is a member of the chicory family and is popular in Italian cuisine.

Escarole can be eaten and served raw or cooked. Its curly green leaves have a slightly bitter flavor. The inner leaves are more tender while the outer leaves have a darker color and are more bitter.

Similar to collard greens, escarole leaves can be braised or sautéed. This leafy vegetable is often used in soup recipes and pasta, most especially in Italian dishes.

The inner leaves are perfect for a salad dish. 

And just like other best broccoli rabe substitutes, escarole offers numerous healthy benefits. It is rich in antioxidants and helps boost our immune system. It also promotes weight loss, improves vision and digestive health.

So if you can’t find broccoli rabe for your recipe, you might consider replacing it with escarole.


DANDELION GREENS

Dandelion greens, also called Swedish mums, are classified as edible leaf vegetables. Dandelion belongs to the  Asteraceae (Sunflower) family, and is native to Eurasia and North America.

Younger dandelion greens that have shorter stems (which have mildly bitter taste) are preferable than the larger leaves since the latter can be overly bitter and fibrous. Dandelion can be eaten raw or cooked, and they are a great source of vitamins C, A, and K. These vegetables are also rich in several minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron, and potassium.


CHINESE BROCCOLI

Another vegetable to substitute broccoli rabe is the Chinese Broccoli. Chinese broccoli is a brassica vegetable that belongs to the cabbage family. 

It is a leafy garden plant with thick and smooth stems. It has waxy bluish-green leaves, and is milder in taste.  Thus, it is considered as the most versatile substitute for broccoli rabe.

Texture of the Chinese broccoli, either cooked or raw, is similar to regular broccoli. Thus, this vegetable is ideal for raw salads, and steam cooked as a side dish. It can also be used as an ingredient in a meat stir-fry, vegetable stir-fry, and other cooked dishes.

Eating Chinese broccoli decreases the risk of cancer and improves the immune system. It also prevents viral and bacterial infections, a substantial source of dietary fiber.


COLLARD GREENS

Collard greens, or commonly known as collards, are loose leaves that belong to the Brassica oleracea cultivars. Collards have large, dark, edible leaves, and are more tasty in cold months.

Cooked collard greens have an earthy taste while raw collards are bitter.

When it comes to nutritional value, collard greens are a great source of vitamins A, C, and K. They are also rich in vitamin B5, magnesium, thiamin, choline, and pantothenic acid. So whenever you don’t have broccoli rabe in your kitchen, consider collard greens as your broccoli rabe substitute.


MUSTARD GREENS

Mustard greens come from a mustard plant and are dark green-colored leaves. They can be both eaten raw in salads or cooked in stir-fry. 

This green leafy vegetable contains beta carotene that helps protect our skin and lowers the risk of diabetes. It is also a good source of B vitamins like niacin, pyridoxine, niacin, and thiamine.

Mustard greens are less bitter compared to collards or kale.