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Broccoli rabe high in cancer-fighting properties

Broccoli rabe by any other name is still … a leafy green. But broccoli rabe (pronounced “rahb”) is also known is broccoli raab, rapini, turnip broccoli, Italian or Chinese broccoli, broccoli rape and Italian turnip.

Despite its name (or most of its names, anyway), broccoli rabe is actually related to turnips and cabbage. The vegetable makes frequent appearances in Italian and Asian cooking, but is growing in popularity in this country.

Boiling, along with pairing the green with other assertive flavors, helps mellow broccoli rabe’s bitter bite.

How to choose them: Look for small stems with firm, green heads.

When to find them: You’ll find broccoli rabe in early spring and late fall.

Where to put them: Store the greens in a sealed plastic bag in the crisper bin of the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Why eat them: Broccoli rabe is rich in cancer-fighting phytochemicals.

What to do with them: Rinse greens well. Cut the tough bottoms off the stalks. The leaves can then be steamed, boiled or sautéed.

Pasta with Ricotta and Broccoli Rabe

Everyday Food, April 2005

Coarse salt and ground pepper

1 1/2 (1 to 2 bunches) broccoli rabe, coarsely chopped

1 pound gemelli (or other short pasta)

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 anchovy fillets (optional)

2 garlic cloves

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 container (15-ounces) part-skim ricotta cheese

1 cup milk

In a large pot of boiling salted water, boil broccoli rabe 1 minute; with a slotted spoon, transfer to a colander to drain. In same pot of water, cook pasta until al dente, according to package directions. Drain pasta, return to pot.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add anchovy fillets (if using), garlic and pepper flakes; cook stirring, until fragrant, 30 to 60 seconds.

Add broccoli rabe; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in ricotta and milk; cook just until heated through, 3 to 4 minutes.

Add contents of skillet to pasta; season with salt and pepper, and toss to combine. Serve immediately.

Yield: 6 servings

Nutrition per serving (from the magazine): 472 calories, 12.5 grams fat (24 percent fat calories), 23.7 grams protein, 67.5 grams carbohydrate, 2.4 grams dietary fiber.

Broccoli Rabe with Melted Garlic

Adapted from Bon Appetit, November 2004

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

10 large garlic cloves, peeled, thinly sliced

1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper

2 pounds broccoli rabe, thick stems trimmed

Heat olive oil in small saucepan over low heat. Add garlic and simmer until garlic is very tender, about 10 minutes (do not brown). Remove from heat; stir in dried crushed red pepper. (Melted garlic can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Rewarm before continuing.)

Cook broccoli rabe in very large pot of boiling salted water until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain well. Toss with melted garlic and oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Yield: 8 servings

Approximate nutrition per serving: 109 calories, 9 grams fat (1.3 grams saturated, 72 percent fat calories), 2.9 grams protein, 5.2 grams carbohydrate, no cholesterol, less than 1 gram dietary fiber, 21 milligrams sodium.

Broccoli Rabe Sauce

From “Molto Mario,” Food TV

5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1/2 large onion, cut into 1/2 -inch dice

2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1 bunch broccoli rabe, tough stems removed

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1/2 cup crushed tomatoes and their juices

1 pound pasta, cooked

Pinch chili flakes

Aged Pecorino di Roma, for grating

In a large sauté pan heat 3 tablespoons olive oil over high heat. Add the onion, then the garlic. Let them get soft but not browned. Roughly chop the broccoli rabe and add to the pan. Season with salt and toss with the onions and garlic. Add 1/4 cup pasta cooking water and a splash of olive oil. Let cook for 2 minutes, then push to 1 side of the pan and add the tomatoes to the other side. Reduce the tomatoes for 2 minutes, then toss together with the broccoli rabe. Add cooked pasta, pinch of chili flakes, and a drizzle of olive oil. Grate some Pecorino di Roma onto the pasta and toss to coat for 1 minute

Divide evenly among 6 warm pasta bowls, grate more cheese over each bowl and serve immediately.

Yield: 6 servings

Approximate nutrition per serving: 383 calories, 13.4 grams fat (2 grams saturated, 31 percent fat calories), 11 grams protein, 54.6 grams carbohydrate, 2 milligrams cholesterol, 2.8 grams dietary fiber, 148 milligrams sodium.