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Rapini is a common vegetable in Chinese and Italian cuisine. It is also known by other names, including Broccoli Rabe (or Raab), Broccoletti, Broccoli di Rape, Cime di Rapa or Grelos. It is similar to, but much more bitter than, Chinese broccoli. The plant has various scientific classification designations, including Brassica rapa ruvo, Brassica rapa rapifera, Brassica ruvo, Brassica campestris ruvo, and Brassica rapa rapa (a name normally assigned to the turnip).
Rapini has many spiked leaves that surround a green bud which looks very similar to a small head of broccoli. The flavor of rapini has been described as nutty, bitter, pungent, and 'an acquired taste'. Rapini is a source of vitamins A, C, and K, as well as potassium, calcium, and iron. It is one of the most popular vegetables in China, especially in Hong Kong, where it is know as "choi sum" 菜心. However the Chinese cultivar is of a lighter green colour, not at all bitter or pungent, and more tender. There may be small yellow flowers blooming from the buds, which are edible.
The vegetable probably descends from a wild herb, a relative of the turnip, that grew either in China or the Mediterranean region. It is now grown throughout the world. Rapini is available all year long, but its peak season is from fall to spring.