Rapini (also known as Broccoli Rabe (or Raab), Broccoletti, Broccoli di Rape, Cime di Rapa, Rappi, Friarielli (in Naples), and Grelos) is a common vegetable in Galician, Chinese, Italian, and Portuguese cuisine. The plant is a member of the Brassiceae tribe of the Brassicaceae, whose taxonomy is very difficult. Rapini is classified scientifically as Brassica rapa subspecies rapa, in the same subspecies as the turnip, but has had various other designations, including Brassica rapa ruvo, Brassica rapa rapifera, Brassica ruvo, Brassica campestris ruvo.
Rapini has many spiked leaves that surround a green bud which looks very similar to a small head of broccoli. There may be small yellow flowers blooming from the buds, which are edible.
The flavor of rapini has been described as nutty, bitter, pungent, and "an acquired taste". The Italian cultivar is similar to, but much more bitter than, the Chinese. However the Chinese cultivar is of a lighter green colour, not at all bitter or pungent, and more tender.
The vegetable probably descends from a wild herb, a relative of the turnip, that grew either in China or the Mediterranean region. It is similar in shape to the Chinese Brassica oleracea cultivar called kai-lan, but not closely related to it.
Rapini is now grown throughout the world. Rapini is available all year long, but its peak season is fall to spring in the Northern Hemisphere.
Rapini is commonly used in traditional Barese and southern Italian cuisine.