A recent e-mail asked a simple question: “Where can I find broccoli rabe seed?”. Now, broccoli I know – but broccoli rabe seemed to be a different kind of plant. Off to the Internet races I went again.
I immediately gleaned an article that noted “The rabe in broccoli rabe is pronounced raab.” This was important information but I didn’t recognize its significance at the time.
I used another search engine this time, Alltheweb.com. My quest for broccoli rabe information yielded one hundred and seventy eight Web sites with recipes for the vegetable but not a single mention of its seed. The recipes for “Broccoli Rabe Raisins” and “Broccoli Rabe Pilaf” seemed tasty but my questioner wanted to grow the stuff before she cooked it.
Most of the recipes described broccoli rabe as a kind of broccoli, having large leaves and small flower heads. Mention was made of its great content of folic acid and beta-carotene. These are admirable qualities in a vegetable but I began to suspect that it appeared magically on kitchen counters rather than being available at the supermarket.
Finally, after following dozens of broccoli rabe Web links down to inevitable dead ends, I took a shortcut. I e-mailed Dr. Wayne McLaurin, an Extension horticulturist who holds, between his hairy ears, an all-encompassing database of arcane vegetable knowledge.
“Just come to the source of all knowledge when you want to know something!” he replied. “Broccoli rabe is commonly called broccoli raab and is Brassica rapa L. var. rapa in scientific circles. In English it is also called turnip broccoli, Italian turnip and broccoletto. In Dutch: raapstelen and raapsteeltjes; in French: raves de feuille; in German: rubenstiel; in Italian: cima di rapa or groccoletti di rapa; in Spanish: nabo de grotes; and in Portuguese: nabo greleiro. What else do you need?”
That outpouring of knowledge was all it took. Search on “broccoli raab seed”……Click!…… and there is the Web site of my friend and fellow television garden host, Ed Hume. He offers hundreds of vegetable and flower seed packets via the Internet and finally, my quest for broccoli rabe (raab) seed is fulfilled.