11 Best Broccoli Rabe Substitutes

Broccoli rabe is leafy green broccoli florets; they are easy to cook and commonly used in Italian dishes.

The leaves of broccoli rabe are slightly bitter and have a nutty taste, making it perfect as a side dish, especially when sauteed to crispness with olive oil and garlic.

If broccoli rabe is out of reach and you are making a recipe that calls for it, you can use other suitable broccoli rabe substitutes instead.

There are plenty of great alternatives for this long, slender vegetable, such as spinach, kale, turnip greens, Escarole, mustard greens, dandelion greens, chicory, collard greens, Chinese broccoli, and Arugula.

What is Broccoli Rabe?

Broccoli rabe is a leafy green vegetable that belongs to the cruciferous family. It is known as rapini and has buds similar to those of the regular broccoli but lacks the characteristic large head of broccoli.

Broccoli rabe is commonly used in Italian cuisine, but it is consumed worldwide. It has a bitter flavor that pairs well with other ingredients that have intense flavors- such as garlic and sausage. You can consume the entire broccoli rabe plant. So, you don’t have to sort out parts of it.

Broccoli rabe is also very easy to prepare, blanching is the most recommended method to prep the vegetable before cooking, but there are other different cooking methods you can use as well.

Blanching your broccoli rabe helps to reduce the rabies bitterness and keep its flavor in check, so it doesn’t overwhelm the flavor of the other ingredients in your dish. 

Broccoli rabe has several health benefits like high water content that provides relief for people struggling with dehydration; it also has a high fiber content that is beneficial to your digestive system. Broccoli rabe also improves your immune system with its full antioxidant content. 

What Does Broccoli Rabe Taste Like?

Broccoli rabe tastes best when cooked; it has a nutty flavor similar to mustard or turnip greens and a varying degree of bitterness. You can reduce the bitterness in broccoli rabe by blanching before proceeding with your recipe.

Broccoli rabe is a not-so-common vegetable and depending on your region, finding this vegetable might be difficult because it isn’t always available. So what can you use in place of broccoli rabe?

A broccoli rabe substitute! Here’s a list of the best replacement for broccoli that gives you a similar flavor and texture.

Best Broccoli Rabe Substitutes

1. Mustard Greens

Mustard greens are the closest substitute for broccoli rabe. They have a similar appearance and taste and can be used for different dishes.

It’s easy to confuse broccoli rabe with regular broccoli as they share the same name, but they are both different types of vegetables, and broccoli rabe is more similar to mustard greens. They have a similar earthy taste, with a slight bitterness that gives your dish a much-needed balance.

Mustard greens also have a slight peppery taste and are best sautéed and added to pasta. This vegetable can be eaten raw or cooked depending on the dish you are adding it to.

Mustard greens are an ideal substitute for broccoli rabe; it is very versatile and offers a lot of health benefits. Mustard greens contain bile acid, which helps lower the cholesterol level in your body.

Both vegetables have similar health benefits and taste profiles, so you may not be able to distinguish between the final results when making a substitution in a recipe.

2. Collard Greens

Collard greens are a great addition to salads and make an excellent substitute for broccoli rabe. 

Collard greens belong to the cabbage family and are the oldest greens in the family; they have similar health benefits and delicious taste as broccoli rabe.

Collard greens have a tough stem, which you can remove before cooking. They are great for pasta, salads, and a variety of different dishes. Collard greens can be used to make a tasty side dish for sautéed dishes like meat.

They have a slightly bitter taste that helps balance out the flavors in your dish. The bitter taste is reduced somewhat when the greens are cooked, while its earthy flavor is intensified.

Collard greens are also beneficial to your health; they help reduce your cholesterol levels and elevate symptoms of depression as they also contain magnesium. 

3. Chinese Broccoli

This is a leafy vegetable also known as Chinese kale; it has glossy blue-green leaves and contains a wide array of nutritional properties that helps to improve your health. 

Chinese broccoli will work well in place of broccoli rabe and can be steamed or sautéed; it has a slightly bitter taste that matches the taste profile of broccoli rabe.

The leaves of Chinese broccoli are much larger than broccoli rabe, but you should be able to make it work in any meal. 

Chinese broccoli contains a rich source of several nutrients like fiber, vitamin E, and beta carotene.

4. Spinach

Spinach is a popular vegetable commonly added to stir-fries and sauces. It is a leafy green plant that is very healthy and contains lots of nutrients.

If you can’t get your hands on broccoli rabe, you can reach for spinach. It is very versatile and can be found easily in any grocery store.

You can use spinach leaves cooked or raw, and they have a nutty and bitter taste that is seemingly similar to broccoli rabe. You can replace broccoli rabe with spinach in almost any recipe.

5. Endives

Endives can also make a suitable replacement for broccoli rabe in certain dishes. They can be eaten raw and cooked, endives have a bitter, crisp taste when eaten raw, and this makes it an excellent substitute for rabe in salads.

But after cooking the vegetable, its bitter taste is reduced and develops a nutty taste with a slight sweetness. They are best used for salads but can also work well in most recipes that call for broccoli rabe.

6. Dandelion Greens

For cooked dishes, one great substitute for broccoli rabe is dandelion greens. Reach for younger dandelion greens with shorter stems and larger leaves; they are the closest to broccoli rabe and produce better results.

Dandelion green has a bitter taste similar to rabe and can be used raw or cooked in salads or in recipes that call for broccoli rabe. This vegetable is not only delicious but has high nutritional values. 

7. Escarole

Escarole is a green veggie that looks similar to lettuce and can be used as a good substitute for broccoli rabe. It can be consumed both raw and cooked.

The inner leaves of escarole are more suitable to be added to salads and eaten raw. The outer leaves are best used for cooking because they are too bitter to be eaten raw.

Escarole contains many useful vitamins and minerals and can be used in most recipes that call for broccoli rabe.

8. Kale

Kale is a nutritious vegetable that belongs to the cabbage family; it can be used to replace broccoli rabe. Both vegetables have similar bitterness that gives them the same taste profile.

Kale can be used in most recipes that call for broccoli rabe but are best suited for making pasta. It packs a rich amount of nutrients, so you are not missing on any end when using kale as a broccoli rabe substitute.

9. Arugula

Arugula is another suitable replacement for broccoli rabe in most recipes. They share a similar taste profile, and when the tartness and bitter flavor of arugula are added to most recipes, it takes the dish to the next level.

Arugula can be added to salads and contain a lot of vitamins and minerals that help improve your health. These veggies have a high water content that keeps you full and hydrated for long; it also helps maintain your bones’ rigidity and strength.

10. Chicory

This veggie has large leaves and makes an excellent substitute for broccoli rabe when cooking. Chicory has a slight bitterness that makes them similar to rabe.

This veggie has special tones and a slight spiciness in its taste which is reduced once cooked. Chicory makes an excellent substitute for broccoli rabe and can be used in most recipes such as salads, grilling, or as a side dish. 

11. Broccolini

Broccolini is a hybrid veggie that makes a suitable substitute for broccoli rabe. They are not closely related even though they have the same name but can serve as a substitute for each other.

Broccolini has a mild taste compared to broccoli rabe, and their major difference is the length of their cooking time.

Broccolini takes a longer time to cook and should be cooked thoroughly before use. It can be used in most recipes that call for broccoli rabe.

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