Pass the rape greens, please

by Jessie K on October 10, 2012

Jake planted a load of “rape greens” in our fall garden and we’ve been eating on them practically every night for a month.

I’d never heard of rape greens. The taste is reminiscent of kale with a soft lettuce-like texture.

I haven’t been able to find any recipes calling for rape greens because I get the feeling not many people have heard of them.

Gee, do you think the name has anything to do with it? This green suffers from a serious PR problem. The “rape green advisory council” or some such needs to get on a name change stat!

I propose “consensual greens.” What do you think?

{ 60 comments… read them below or add one }

Brad K. October 10, 2012 at 3:38 pm


I know that canola oil was renamed, coming from the rape plant, because the rape seed oil wasn’t deemed market ready.

I had thought that rape was a grass-weed, though. I know wheat farmers contend with persistent weeds like cheat (a grass), and I kinda figured that rape was just another grass-type grain plant, similar to oats and wheat.

I just looked it up on wikipedia( “Rapeseed (Brassica napus), also known as rape, oilseed rape, rapa, rappi, rapaseed (and, in the case of one particular group of cultivars, canola), is a bright yellow flowering member of the family Brassicaceae (mustard or cabbage family). The name derives from the Latin for turnip, rāpa or rāpum, and is first recorded in English at the end of the 14th century.”

A cabbage named for the turnip. Huh.

Will October 11, 2012 at 3:23 am


Yeah, turnips and radishes are both in the same family as cabbage.

Similar to how cumin, celery and parsley are in the same family as carrots.

We just get used to thinking of foods as spices, leafy vegetables and roots.

Jessie K October 11, 2012 at 9:22 am


I had no idea rape greens are related to canola oil. You DO learn something new everyday.

Thomas July 15, 2015 at 1:54 pm


Hi Jessie, I’m looking for these in Finland where I live, I ate them in Zimbabwe and I want more. I’m wondering what to ask for, are these the same as rapeseed (brassica napus) leaves? If yes, do you harvest the leaves before they flower? Best, Thomas

Laura October 10, 2012 at 3:41 pm


Perhaps someone from the Canola Advisory Council will help (canola oil comes from rapeseed).

Out of curiosity, I looked up the name on Etymology Online. Apparently it comes from the Latin word for turnip, and there’s a whole class (family?) of plants that fall under the “rape” umbrella.

Kim October 10, 2012 at 3:43 pm


I’ve seen it referenced in several different books – seems like many of them were set in England – but it was never discussed as a food source, just as magnificent fields of yellow flowers. (which always makes me think of Dr. Zhivago.)

Melora October 10, 2012 at 4:33 pm


I had no idea canola was a brassica. Learn something new every day. It must have monster seeds compared to it’s broccoli (rapini!) and cabbage kin.

Whatever it’s called, saute it hot with some garlic and/or mushrooms, add some salt and good olive oil, and gimme a call because it’s dinner time. Or breakfast – poached egg on top? Yes, please.

Rats, now I’m hungry.

Janelle October 10, 2012 at 10:18 pm


“Consensual.” Made me laugh. Thanks!
The photo of June is precious.

Will October 11, 2012 at 3:25 am


Those are some beautiful greens. I notice there are no holes in the leaves of the rape from worms or beetles…so what did you spray on them?

Lilly October 11, 2012 at 8:49 am


Is that the same as broccoli raab?

Larry May 8, 2013 at 10:39 am


Yes it is. Italians eat it. A good place to look for recipies would be an Italian cook book.

Beth October 11, 2012 at 4:00 pm


Rape makes fabulous chicken feed when you get tired of eating your consensual greens every night…especially when the stuff starts going to seed.

Cindy October 13, 2012 at 10:10 am


I just saw rape greens used on Chopped this week.

maxine October 13, 2012 at 11:47 am


Just picked up 2 big bags of rape greens at the farmers market this morning. I can’t wait to use them.

Christi December 29, 2012 at 8:32 pm


Rape is common in southern Africa. It’s very good with groundnut powder. Yum!

Fortune May 7, 2013 at 12:19 pm


where can I buy the seeds

Brad K. May 8, 2013 at 1:02 am



I Googled “rape greens seed”, and found Johny’s Seeds has them. They have, that is, a winter forage crop for livestock and deer, ready to pasture six weeks after planting, a “Dwarf Essex Rape” variety.

Then there is this one.
“Edible Yu Choy” sounds like what we are looking for. They list seven different variety, for use of the flower stems on some to fast-producing or year round varieties.

This site explains that yu choy sum (or yu choy sin, above, I *think*) is when you use the tender flower stem. Yu choy is when you use the leaves. They only list two varieties, but describe extending the season.

Luck. I am picking up the extended, heat tolerant version from the first site.

Maria July 16, 2013 at 3:41 am


Just today I received a juicer! A lot of the recipes in the book called for 50g of rape…..I had to google it ….. and got your blog! So you can go out in the morning, pick some rape leaves, juice them….and drink them……all in 10 minutes! You can’t get fresher than that!!! Enjoy!

Barbra August 7, 2013 at 11:13 am


I know the leaf it is very popular and a part of our daily diet in Zimbabwe. It is grown in almost every home garden in Zimbabwe. There are a variety of ways that it is prepared for example sautéed with onions and tomatoes, mixed with beef and eaten with our staple food Sadza ( basically a thick porridge) that resembles mashed potato consistency. Now that I live in Canada the closest I get to these awesome green is Kale and collard green.
hope this is helpful

Barbra August 7, 2013 at 11:15 am


Oh Zimbabwe is in southern Africa, neighbouring South Africa, Zambia, and Botswana.

Gabriel May 23, 2014 at 5:56 am


correct Barbra, it’s a delicacy here in South Africa especially mixed with beef and eaten with pap/sadza. Good substitute for spinach

Ethel August 14, 2013 at 12:16 am


Africans eat a lot of rape (greens). Fry some onion in oil, then add tomatoes and some salt. Cook these until the tomatoes begin to break down then add the chopped rape and enough water for simmering about 10-15 minutes on low-med heat. It should be thick but not stuck to the pan.
Enjoy! (as we do – you can cook any greens this way, including mustard greens (tsunga/mpiru), collard greens (tsunga), pumpkin or squash leaves and others. yum!

Jane Soder August 17, 2013 at 1:04 am


Dear Ethel;
You can cook any greens that way? I’m going to try it with the Common Blue Violet which grows like mad in my garden. The late Euell Gibbons called the violet “nature’s vitamin pill” I usually eat violets leaves boiled, but this sounds good too and a change of pace Thank you.

jp 吉平 October 15, 2013 at 7:43 pm


Late to the party!

This is pretty common on a Chinese restaurant menu: 油菜 yóucài, and although the character 油 means “oil” I am not in a position to say that it’s somehow related to canola production from the seeds.

Anyway, when I first went to China and was given a bilingual Chinese/English menu, the word “rape” jumped out at me. I assumed it was a veg I never heard of and got on with my life (or maybe I had seen it on a poster?) but my dining partners freaked out a little, looked it up, etc.

In any case, I’m eating some right now.

Kat October 25, 2013 at 2:20 pm


I love rape greens.Haven’t had any in years as its hard to find in the city.Inquiries can receive some odd looks at the grocers.Looking it up online leads to the plant rape seed for rape seed.So, I am most happy to have found this page.The photos are FABU and thank you for posting.Best way to cook them is in a large pot mixed with collards,kale,mustard,turnips.Rape takes the edge off of the stronger flavored greens to make a tasty side,and or meal.Add your favourite pork,we like jowl and salt pork(not a lot or its too salty)/streak ‘o lean in light chicken broth.Cook down until fork tender and a deep green pot liqueur.I like to cook mine all day,sometimes all night too.My daughter,as a Southerner,now gobbles them up after years of,”That didn’t come out of a can did it?,then I’m not eating it.”Don’t forget the hot from the oven corn bread and sliced onion.YUM!!!

Gwen Blackman November 26, 2014 at 10:25 am


Kat, nothing better than a pot of rape and mustard. Rape disappeared from the grocery stores years ago and I can’t find any either. I’ve moved from the city to a rural area and know nothing about growing greens. However, I’d definitely try my hand at growing them. If you locate a source, let me know.

Ellie M April 25, 2015 at 9:58 am


His. I buy the seeds for growing rape here in North Carolina. If you are interested let me know. I intend to plant the seeds to create a garden ( first timer).

Darrell December 18, 2013 at 2:37 pm


Most feed stores sell 5lb bags of seed for like $5

Liina December 18, 2013 at 4:54 pm


Hi Everyone

I planted quite a lot of rape (2 varieties). I learned to eat rape while in Zambia. it is a delicious green vegetable. Missed it actually, after our return home to Namibia. last year i found some seeds while shopping in our fruit and Veg shop, you would not imagine how much I harvested. the harvest was so much, we actually made some money selling to friends and neighbors. The rape vegetable is not sold found in our shops unlike spinach and cabagge

DiamondGirl860 December 21, 2013 at 5:06 pm


Rape greens are also a staple in Hmong and Asian cuisine. We usually grow them in home gardens, since most stores don’t sell it. However, it can be found in Asian supermarkets, usually next to the mustard greens and bok choy. Our favorite way to cook it is to render some chopped bacon first (leaving both crisp bacon bits and oil still in pot), then throw in the chopped rape greens, stir, cover to let the rape cook down, stir again, then when the stems are tender, finish with salt to taste. Serve over jasmine rice.
We also like using chopped chicken breast & thighs as well as chopped up ham, but u can use any ground meat too. Just brown the meat in a little oil first, then proceed. Sooo easy & delicious.

Polianthus April 27, 2014 at 6:41 am


hello there – the italians use broccoli rabe a lot – especially the southern italians. I am pretty sure you will find recipes if you check italian websites (and then google translate back to english :) happy hunting Poli

Sarah Williams April 30, 2014 at 11:30 am


I grew up eating rape in now in the uk now and would cut off my left arm for some now :-) any ideas how to get some?

Gabriel May 23, 2014 at 6:11 am


Sarah, try this page on facebook.
All the best.

Monica May 27, 2014 at 8:15 am


Isn’t it funny, in Zim we eat a lot of rape usually as a side dish to Sadza (hard mealie (coarse corn flour) meal porridge and some meat – mostly stewed or roasted). We have two standard versions; giant English rape and mustard rape (with a tangy or bitter taste) but we have to import canola oil and very few of our farmers have even heard of that product. The plant is ripped out of the ground before flowering because it will no longer be producing the prized big juicy leaves. Reading this article and the comments I guess I realise why in the vernacular we always refer to the heinous sexual crime as “rape case” and reserve the plain “rape” for the beloved vegetable!
PS Rape is really interchangeable with kale, but cut the cooking time in half or less as it is softer and likely to turn into mush if overdone.

IzanEnChristelle May 27, 2014 at 12:35 pm


We are eating Spinach salad almost every day, tonight we try the Giant Rape in a a salad, turnip, Union, Feta Cheese 😉

Rebecca June 22, 2014 at 3:31 am


Sarah, in June it grows wild all over the UK, just look for the bright yellow flowers. I live near the sea in Scotland and it’s all along the shore with the nettles and bracken tips (now) and wild garlic (spring). Worth a trip to the countryside just to look for some on a sunny morning. Good luck.
As it’s a mustard green I’m going to try a light pickle (12 hours?) experiment with tips and flowers and a longer pickle for the bigger leaves later in the summer.

Alan July 26, 2014 at 11:24 am


I grew some last year and liked them. they look a lot like kale. Plan to grow some more this fall. I also believe that they should change the name. Consensual , i do not believe is a good name for a green though.

Rue July 29, 2014 at 7:03 am


How about “table” rape. Grew some in my father’s allotment last summer. Look out for the white butterflies. They lay eggs on the under surface of the leaves. The caterpillars are so devastating if not controlled.

Sybil August 14, 2014 at 1:11 pm


Interesting! I was just googling rape greens because a friend posted an asian recipe that calls for them…basically a pork and rape stir fry. They look quite different from the 4 foot high fields of rape I saw in Germany in June (we stayed on a farm!) …but these were about to burst into bloom. Maybe the “greens” were below or are eaten at a younger stage.

tichaona mapare August 25, 2014 at 3:29 am


this leaf called rape is very nice and delicious, l used to grow vegetables in the garden and rape was the most plant l had in my garden, my family and l had to eat on rape that l lef my country l eat on some other vegetables which l do not understand, l really miss my rape, l am really a rape fancy.

mishkish September 1, 2014 at 5:13 pm


Rape vegetable is very tasty especially if you wash its, finely chop. Heat oil and fry gently for 5 minutes, add fresh tomato and season with salt. Do not over cook. Yummy

Mel November 5, 2014 at 8:48 pm


We planted rapeseed. I hopes the deer would find our food plots and we can selective harvest the venison. Yum. We are enjoying the early leaves in salads and the larger as cooked greens. Consensual greens. Lol. Love that

Gwen Blackman November 26, 2014 at 10:20 am


I grew up eating rape and mustard cooked together. Delicious. As for a recipe, cook them the same as you cook kale, collards, mustard greens.

I can’t find any, anywhere. Where did you get the seeds?

Brad K. December 8, 2014 at 12:18 am


Rape is a member of the mustard family — like cabbage is.

Johnny’s selected seeds has an Essex variety seed available

And has one for field use — cover crop, etc.

Baker Creek nursery has the same Dwarf Essex rape (comes from Latin for turnip, I think) seed Their catalog is gorgeous, lots of heritage and hard to find varieties. Separate pages of white tomatoes, pink tomatoes, black tomatoes, red tomatoes, and a few others. Their catalog is something to see.

Luck! . . And don’t forget the kale!

carolyn December 30, 2014 at 9:13 pm


please let me know where you found these seeds or greens I have been looking for them since my mother past, if not in Ohio please tell me where to find them , my mom cook them fat back, 4+6 years now and I still taste them, please respond ASAP. 614 -592-6677 ask for Gladis

carolyn December 30, 2014 at 9:17 pm


please call ASAP

Ellie M April 25, 2015 at 10:03 am


His. I buy the seeds for growing rape here in North Carolina. If you are interested let me know. I intend to plant the seeds to create a garden ( first timer).

carolyn December 30, 2014 at 10:21 pm



carolyn December 30, 2014 at 10:23 pm



richard January 26, 2015 at 1:53 pm


Try kings in seed in the UK they ship abroad
they based in Essex

Hiroya March 19, 2015 at 8:55 pm


These greens are very spring vegetables in Japan (nanohana).
Here’s one recipe:
Do you know where we can get the seeds in the US?
Thanks for sharing this wonderful blog entry!

Will March 23, 2015 at 12:12 pm


Maybe Kitazawa Seed?

Jackie April 22, 2015 at 8:53 pm


I grew up in NC and my family ate rape as often as we did mustard or turnip greens. Rape was cooked the same way that other greens were. Unfortunately, I never see them anymore.

Stephanie May 17, 2015 at 10:04 pm


I used eat a lot of rape greens in Zimbabwe with sadza I miss it

martin June 27, 2015 at 4:26 am


I am looking for rape vegetable seeds. Please could you
advise me where to buy them and also including white corn seeds.

Aretha July 13, 2015 at 2:31 am


Hi I am looking for organic rape leaves/seeds in south africa, any idea where I can purchase?

Ms. V July 24, 2015 at 9:17 am


Jessie, you are correct, a lot of people have never heard of Rap Green’s, but the city people called them hanover greens. It is very hard to fine them now. I was raised on them. To me they are the best greens.

Summer1 July 28, 2015 at 3:53 pm


My old world Portuguese family bought rape greens right along with collard greens and broccoli rabe. It was called it “rah-pay”with accent on the second syllable.

JR July 30, 2015 at 10:00 pm


Nutrition in the United States is on a bad roller coaster ride. My 96 year old mother loved rape greens. When I was growing up she mixed mustard, kale, turnips and rape. Depends on what the store had. (Never mixed the collards.) Slowly all those healthy green choices disappeared from the shelves. Suddenly kale is the new ” it” food. Many American blacks find this ironically funny since we have been eating it for decades.
I hope this means that rape and mustard will reappear again. Can’t wait for mainstream America to discover pot liquor.

JR July 31, 2015 at 4:59 pm


My 96 year old mother loved rape greens. When I was growing up she mixed mustard, kale, turnips and rape. Depends on what the store had. (Never mixed the collards.) Slowly all those healthy green choices disappeared from the shelves. Suddenly kale is the new ” it” food.
Many American blacks find this ironically funny since we have been eating it for decades.
I hope this means that rape and mustard greens will reappear again. Can’t wait for mainstream America to discover pot liquor.

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