Broccoli rabe is a leafy green vegetable. Also known as rapini, it is commonly used in Southern Italian, Portuguese, and Galician cuisine. But later it has become popular in the USA.

Broccoli rabe has a slightly bitter taste and frequently served as steamed or sautéed in olive oil. Its flower looks similar to the broccoli florets, but this vegetable is not a type of broccoli.

Broccoli rabe is quite nutritious and rich in phytochemicals like indoles and sulforaphane.

Although it’s popular in the USA and commonly found in the local farmer’s market, there might be some times when you fell short of this leafy green. However, there are some other leafy greens that you can use as broccoli rabe substitutes.

This article looks into some broccoli rabe substitutes that may bring similar taste and flavor in foods.9 Broccoli Rabe Substitutes in Pastas & Salads

9 Broccoli Rabe Substitutes You Can Try

1. Mustard Greens

Mustard green can be the closest substitute for broccoli rabe as it has a similar bitter, earthy taste.

It contains bile acid, an essential component that helps to lower the cholesterol in the blood.

A study says this acid significantly gets improved when the mustard green is boiled.

You can substitute mustard greens for broccoli rabe if you’re making pasta or sautéing with other vegetables like beans and potatoes.

2. Collard Greens

Broccoli Rabe Substitutes in Pastas & Salads

Collard greens are the oldest known greens that belong to the cabbage family. It contains high fiber content and is rich in vitamin A and C.

A study was published in the Roczniki Panstwowego Zakladu Higieny.

It confirms that the antioxidant in collard greens and other brassica vegetables can fight against free radicals, prevent oxidative stress, boost immunity, and reduce the risk of cancer.

Collard greens can be a good alternative to broccoli rabe in pasta with meat, salads, and with sautéed vegetables as side dish.

3. Turnip Greens

Turnip greens belong to the cruciferous vegetable family. They contain a high amount of nutrients and low calorie.

Turnip greens are rich in dietary nitrate, vitamin A, C and iron that can help prevent a number of diseases.

According to the research published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, dietary nitrate can protect heart health and reduce the risk of hypertension, stroke, and coronary heart diseases.

The sharp and spicy flavor of turnip greens makes them a good substitute for broccoli rabe.

4. Chinese Broccoli

Chinese broccoli or Chinese kale is a leafy vegetable that comes with thick, glossy blue-green leaves.

Like other brassica vegetables, Chinese broccoli is also widely known for the numerous amount of nutritional properties it contains.

If you run out of broccoli rabe, you can use Chinese broccoli in sautéed or steamed form.

5. Dandelion Greens

Broccoli Rabe Substitutes in Pastas & Salads

Dandelion greens are basically leaves from the dandelion plant. It’s a nutrient-dense vegetable that you can use in various recipes.

Dandelion green is rich in vitamin A, C, E, and K, as well as anti-inflammatory components, that can help reduce oxidative stress, reducing the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases.

If you want to use dandelion greens as a replacement for broccoli rabe, use the younger dandelion greens that come with a shorter stem. It’s because the larger leaves are quite bitter in taste.

6. Endives

Endives are leafy vegetables that come from the genus Cichorium. It has a sweet, nutty flavor, a crisp texture, and a mild bitterness.

Like other leafy greens, endives also contain numerous amount of nutrients that can help treat various diseases.

A study published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood shows that fresh endive could successfully treat anemia.

Due to their crunchiness and bitterness, you can use it in the salad. However, it becomes a bit sweet when cooked.

7. Kale

Kale is a member of the cabbage family that is quite popular for its numerous health benefits.

It is rich in vitamin C, polyphenols, flavonoids, as well as antioxidants.

Due to the antioxidant properties, kale may help prevent oxidative damage by the free radicals in the body.

Kale does not have a bitter taste, meaning that it can be a good choice if you’re making dishes for children that call for broccoli rabe.

8. Chicory

Chicory is a woody, herbaceous plant that is widely used in salads and various medicinal applications. Its leaf can be used like spinach in various dishes.

Chicory is rich in vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, zinc, manganese, potassium, iron, vitamin A, B6, C, E, and K.

According to a 2006 study, chicory-based coffee could reduce the chances of cardiovascular diseases compared to regular coffee.

Chicory leaf comes with a spicy and bitter taste that mellows when sautéed or grilled. It means you can easily use it as an alternative to broccoli rabe, particularly in the salad.

9. Broccoli & Arugula

Broccoli is a green vegetable known as the nutritional powerhouse. It contains a significant amount of antioxidants that help reduce oxidative stress, as well as cellular damage in eyes.

Arugula is also packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidant that help treat a number of diseases.

The combination of broccoli and arugula can be a good substitute for broccoli rabe due to the spiciness of arugula and the texture of broccoli.


When it comes to choosing a substitute in cooking, not all of them will give you the desired flavor and taste like the original one.

However, using them in the correct portion with some additional seasoning can bring a closer taste to your favorite dish.

While broccoli rabe is so popular in Italian cuisine, you may find it surprising to know that it can be replaced with something less exotic from your kitchen.

READ NEXT: 6 Leek Substitutes in Soup and Other Recipes with Uses

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