Thursday, April 19, 2012

Broccoli Rabe

It's convenient that leafy greens are highly nutritious, low in fat and cholesterol free. Because I love me some dark green leaves all of the time.

When we were kids my mom cooked lots of Asian vegetables, quickly stir fried with garlic or ginger, lightly salted and planted on the dinner table piping hot. Our favorite was kong xin cai, which some people call Chinese water spinach and other people call morning glory and other people call eng cai and other people call pak bung.

We grew up appreciating the subtle flavors of all sorts of green leafy vegetables in a way that my mom claimed "normal" Americans didn't.

"Americans don't know how to cook vegetables to make them taste good," she'd say, spooning more bok choy or Chinese mustard greens or broccoli onto my plate. "They just boil them until they're mush, so of course they don't like them. That's why Americans are fat, because they don't eat vegetables."

Well, Americans are fat because they eat fat, not because they don't eat vegetables. (And also because they don't exercise enough.)

Anyway, I have a long list of leafy greens that I love, but at the very top of the list, perhaps in the #1 slot, in a close race with kong xin cai, is broccoli rabe.

I discovered broccoli rabe when I was living in New York and it showed up next to some pasta I ordered. It made an impression so I looked for it at the grocery store. I was disappointed when I realized that it was only in season for two or three weeks, around early spring. Because there was such a tiny window when I could find them, they became this rare commodity in my mind, which of course made me savor them even more when I had them around. It's probably a big reason they rank so high on my veggie list.

In California broccoli rabe seems to stay in season longer, or we've just had two great broccoli rabe growing seasons in a row. This year, I spotted them in early March at my Lucky Supermarket and they appear to be going strong yet. I still can't get over the idea that at any minute they'll disappear from the produce section, not to be seen again for ten long broccoli-rabe-free months, but I may be a bit less anxious about it after this year's long residency in the produce section.

Here's some broccoli rabe deliciousness I made for dinner:

You can google all sorts of fancy recipes, but a simple sautee with garlic, olive oil and a pinch of salt is about as perfect as it gets. Broccoli rabe can be slightly bitter, so sometimes I blanch it in boiling water first, then lightly sautee as mentioned. I like my leafy greens to be slightly crisp in the stems (to avoid the dreaded American mushiness my mom warned us about, as if it would signal our failure as true vegetable connoisseurs) so it can be a bit tricky to get the bitterness out without letting the mushy in.

Other amayyzing greens:

beet greens
brussel sprouts
jungle fern

1 comment:

Nate @ House of Annie said...

Thanks for the link back!