Monday, April 25, 2011
Immature Cruciferous Flowers or: Raab Rant Redux Reconsidered
Call them what you will (or, like contributor Jim Dixon of RealGoodFood, just get annoyed), but these flowering tops are all over the farmers' markets in colors from green to red and from plants as varied as brussels sprouts, broccoli and kale. And I agree with Jim—a simple sauté or stir fry and you've got yourself a seasonal treat!
Actually, I’m sticking with my original cranky take on misuse of the language re: the rape/turnip/raab issue, but I needed one more r-word for the alliteration. Despite my writer’s irritation with all of the Spring “raabs” at the market, I love to eat them. Cabbage tops, brassica buds, or whatever (might as well just call them “raab” like everybody else), these immature flower buds from various cabbage relatives taste great. They’re more tender than the leaves and stalks from the same plants we’ll be eating later, so quicker cooking works well. Brussels sprout tops are really good; I like kale and collard tops, too.
I drop whole bundles (can’t seem to buy just one) into boiling, well-salted water for a couple of minutes, then fish them out with tongs and drain. While an ample pile of chopped garlic cooks in extra virgin (carefully; don’t let it brown), I’ll cut the “raab” into manageable lengths (about 2 inches), then add them to the skillet with any water left clinging. Another 10 minutes over medium heat, and the greens are ready to eat. Bump things up with a few shakes of your favorite hot red pepper.
Not surprisingly, this same approach works perfectly with real rapini (aka broccoli raab). The greens are great on their own, but a poached or fried (in olive oil, natch) egg on top makes them a meal.