“Dad, this broccoli is terrible,” said Esme in her most earnest voice. “Why did you make this terrible broccoli?” Well, it wasn’t broccoli at all, it was rapini, and it wasn’t terrible. We’ve been working hard at encouraging table manners (thank the person who made lunch, don’t say “yuck” if you don’t like something) but we had to let this go it was too funny.

Ben told Esme we were eating broccoli rather than rapini to give it a chance of being eaten. I don’t really agree since now she thinks she doesn’t like broccoli. Or maybe she’ll just think she doesn’t like it the way Ben makes it? In any case, rapini is a long shot for kids but we’re dedicated to keep adventurous food on the table.

In his new book Feeding Baby Green, Dr. Alan Greene says that most American families give up on introducing a new flavour to their babies if after five attempts the food is rejected. However, it takes between six to ten tries for most babies to really attach to new flavours. I love what he has to say about eating being a developmental skill that requires as much repetition as any other. Of course! You wouldn’t stop encouraging your kid to walk or remember her table manners if after five tries she didn’t master it. The truth is, it’s frustrating to have your food turned down. And kids are so brutal about how they reject things. I think that’s why we stop trying.

The other point Greeene makes is that you have to introduce as many flavours as early as you can as kids will naturally narrow their preferences as they get older. So, we’re going to keep it up with the rapini. Maybe I’ll even get over myself and try brussell sprouts again…. Maybe.



  • Head of fresh rapini
  • Two cloves of garlic
  • Three strips of good quality bacon
  • Splash of olive oil
  • Chili flakes (optional)


Clean and trim the rapini. (I like fewer leaves, my husband likes more - try it both ways)

Trim the end of the stalk but leave lots of stem. Chop into two inchpieces.

Blanch in boiling water until just tender. Drain well.

Mince garlic and chop bacon into inch sized pieces.

Saute garlic and bacon in a frying pan with olive oil. When the bacon is brown and starting to crisp, throw in the drained rapini. Toss everything together.

If your kids can handle spice or if you're eating without them it's much better to add the chili flakes.

Serve and cross your fingers.


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