Leanne Wei

Broccoli rabe flower salad

A stroll through the Union Square Greenmarket yesterday left me with two things: a giant bag of radish and broccoli rabe.  In fact, I think I have enough of these guys to feed myself for an entire week.  This week's highlight in my life is broccoli rabe.  I have never cooked or eaten broccoli rabe before, but my initial assumption was that broccoli rabe must be all related to broccoli somehow.  The leaves of the broccoli, perhaps?  Ha. Boy, was I wrong. 

When I posted a picture of the photo shoot I gave my veggies on Instagram yesterday, many of you guessed these pretty yellow buds to be broccoli flowers.  "You smarties", I thought.  But after scouring the internet just to make sure broccoli and broccoli rabe were the same thing, I came to shocking realization that broccoli and broccoli rabe are not even from the same family.  Now, I don't know about you but my first thought was, "WHO IS IN CHARGE OF NAMING THESE VEGETABLES?"

Although unrelated in the vegetable kingdom, broccoli, broccolini and broccoli rabe actually do look alike, taste and smell similar and are often used interchangeably in recipes.  NoshOn.It has a great post explaining the difference between these three similar, but unrelated vegetables. 

Broccolini is NOT the same as baby broccoli, though it may look like it. It’s actually a cross between regular broccoli and Chinese broccoli with long stems, larger florets, and less leaves. It has a sweeter taste that’s more similar to regular broccoli.
Broccoli Rabe is in the same family as turnips, which explains why the leaves look so similar to turnip or mustard greens. It has long stems, smaller florets than broccolini, and larger leaves (all of which are edible). The flavor is pleasantly bitter.
Rapini and broccoli rabe are not the same vegetable but are very close cousins. In most grocery stores, the names are used interchangeably because the flavor is nearly the same.

Now that we've got the technical stuff out the way, let's get cooking!  As I mentioned earlier before, I have a copious amount of broccoli rabe on hand so my goal this week is to make a handful of dishes using different parts of the broccoli rabe.  In today's salad, we will be focussing on broccoli rabe flower.  Broccoli rabe flowers look like tiny broccoli florets - and yes, they are edible! If you follow me on Instagram, you'll probably already know that I'm kind of obsessed with flowers.  Nothing makes me happier.  Well, maybe except for eating them.  Plus, I guarantee that they will make any dish look beautiful. 


Broccoli Rabe Flowers
English Cucumber
Truffle Oil


  1. Wash and dry veggies.
  2. Thinly slice radish and cucumber (I used a knife but feel free to use a julienne slicer)
  3. Place sliced vegetables in a bowl and squeeze the juice of half a lemon and a pinch of salt to taste. Toss to coat veggies. 
  4. Now for the plating: layer radish and cucumber slices in alternation to create a mandala-like pattern (or any pattern you like). 
  5. Garnish with broccoli rabe flowers and drizzle with a touch of truffle oil. 

Photography and styling by Leanne Wei