Saturday, March 10, 2012
I Say Raab, You Say Rabe
When I planted those lacinato kale seeds in the garden last spring, I figured I'd get some good eating from their greens later in the summer. Indeed, that did happen until they became infested with aphids and the dusty grey bugs and their residue couldn't be washed off the leaves. At that point I thought they were pretty much done and it was time to pull them out.
Then Anthony Boutard mentioned that he prefers these greens in the winter, when the cold weather causes the plants to produce sugar as a kind of anti-freeze. So I left them in, pulling off the leaves for salads, soups and sides and discovering, by golly, that Anthony wasn't pulling my leg. There was a definite sweetness that crept in as the winter progressed.
As the plant grew, looking like a Dr. Suess illustration of a tiny palm tree, the leaves became smaller and smaller, and again I thought about pulling them up. About then I noticed that little heads were forming with buds that looked like the raab I love at the spring farmers' markets. I picked one off and tasted it…nutty, green, sweet…woohoo!
So about the time the raab runs out it'll be time to plant new seeds and get a whole new year's worth of eating. Who knew?
For more, read Jim Dixon's rant about the "immature flower buds from various cabbage relatives."