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Rapini – All You Need to Know | Instacart’s Guide to Groceries



Last Updated: May 18, 2022

What is rapini?

Rapini is a dark green cruciferous vegetable that is related to broccoli, cabbage, and bok choi. It’s often called broccoli rabe and has a slightly bitter taste that can become milder during cooking. Rapini can be used entirely: stem, leaves, and flowerets. It has a short growing period, and the flowerets don’t become as large as those on a head of broccoli. 

Rapini is a nutritional powerhouse: it’s low in calories and carbs and fat-free. A small three-and-a-half-ounce serving contains more than 100% of the recommended daily amounts of both vitamins A and C. Rapini also contains calcium, iron, and potassium. 

Here’s a breakdown of the nutrition facts for a three-and-a-half-ounce serving of rapini:

  • 25 calories
  • 0g fat
  • 4g carbohydrate
  • 2.7g fiber
  • 1g sugar
  • 3g protein

Rapini can be prepared in many ways. It can be eaten fresh in a salad or sauteed in olive oil and fresh garlic. Broiling rapini in your oven will give it a sweeter flavor and slightly caramelize it. 

Where did rapini originate from?

Rapini originates from Europe, where it remains relatively common today. Although you can buy fresh rapini at supermarkets in North America, it’s not very popular outside of Italian and Mediterranean cuisine. 

How is rapini grown?

Rapini can grow well in many climates, but it grows best in cool weather. Many home gardeners plant it once in early spring and will plant another crop two months before the first frost is expected. Growing rapini in the heat of the summer isn’t advised because it becomes more bitter when grown in hot weather. 

Rich, nutrient-dense soil is needed for optimal growth and can grow in sunny or shaded areas. The plants should have plenty of space between them and require moist soil. Rapini does not grow as large as a broccoli plant and only needs about eight weeks until it’s ready for harvest. 

When is rapini in season?

The best time to get the best-tasting rapini is early spring or late summer to early fall. However, you can find rapini in most grocery stores all year round because it can be easily transported to climates where it doesn’t grow. 

How do you pick rapini at the grocery store?

Color is one of the most important characteristics to look for when buying fresh rapini. You should choose one that has a very dark green color with no hints of yellow or brown. Since it changes color as it ages, yellow and brown coloring means that it’s not very fresh.

Leaves should be mostly intact, but since they can be torn easily in shipping or buy other shoppers, one or two torn leaves isn’t a problem. The stems should be firm, and leaves shouldn’t be wilted. 

When you want your groceries delivered, you can easily shop for rapini via Instacart. After adding a product to your cart, use the “Instructions” option to notify your Instacart shopper about any preferences or specific directions on how to choose the best products. Shop for organic rapini.

How to store rapini

Fresh rapini should be stored in the refrigerator unwashed. It will stay freshest if you place it in a closed perforated bag in the crisper drawer. Ideally, you should use it within three to four days, but it may stay edible for up to a week. Rapini can be stored on the counter for a day or two, if necessary.

It’s possible to freeze rapini if you have too much to use before it goes bad. You’ll need to wash it well and then blanch it for three minutes. Drain the water and lay it on a tray lined with parchment paper to freeze for two to three hours. Transfer the frozen rapini to freezer bags or containers and use it within 12 months. While the vegetable retains much of its nutrition and flavor, the texture will be different once thawed and works best in cooked dishes like soups, casseroles, and stir-frys. 

How to tell if rapini is bad

Rapini doesn’t have a long shelf-life and should be consumed as soon as possible to prevent it from going bad and causing illness or cross-contamination with other foods in your refrigerator. Your nose and eyes will tell you if your bag of rapini has gone bad.

First, the leaves and flowerets will start to turn yellow and then brown. It may look okay, but this is the beginning of spoilage, so throw it out even if it has discoloration. As it gets older, it will become soft and limp before turning slimy if there’s excess moisture in the bag. Finally, mold may start to grow, and you’ll notice an off odor. At this point, it should go straight to the trash bin. 

What can I substitute for rapini?

There are lots of dark, leafy green vegetables available, but the ones that make the best substitute for rapini in recipes. When substituting fresh rapini with something else, you want the flavor to be similar. The three best choices to use for rapini are:

  • Mustard greens 
  • Collard greens
  • Chinese broccoli

All three of these have flavor profiles that are bitter and have an earthy taste. 

Buy fresh produce online

Whether you’re planning to buy rapini or other fresh fruits and vegetables, make your day easier by ordering them online. With Instacart, it’s easy, and you can even place your order on your smartphone. Simply add what you want to your virtual cart and pay for the order. An Instacart shopper will take care of the rest and even deliver it to your door if you choose home delivery. Try it now!



Instacart is the leading online grocery platform in North America, partnering with more than 750 beloved national, regional and local retailers, including unique brand names, to deliver from more than 70,000 stores across more than 5,500 cities in North America. To read more Instacart posts, you can browse the company blog or search by keyword using the search bar at the top of the page.

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