When I saw kale raab on the list of veg in my box last week I assumed that it must be a cross between broccoli rabe and kale. Not so fast! As it turns out "raabs" are the tender flowering tops of bolted brassicas. There is broccoli raab, mustard raab, brussels sprout raab, and kale raab, among others. Last summer, the kale spent all of its time developing a strong root system and leaves. In spring, these same kale plants produce tender little yellow edible flowers in an effort to send seeds onto the next generation. They appear for a very short window of time and are a real spring treat.
The simplest way to enjoy Kale Raab is to quickly sauté it in olive oil and garlic. Because the kale is young, the stems are still fairly tender. Separate the leaves and remove only the toughest ends. Here the kale raab is combined with beans, making it more of a full meal that took about 10 minutes to prepare - mostly because the beans were straight from a can! Topped with a little lemon zest and a sprinkle of nutmeg it's a lovely spring dish.
Kale Raab and Pan-Fried Beans
adapted from Heidi Swanson | 101 Cookbooks
1 small bunch kale raab (6 oz) - tough stems removed
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 15oz can butter beans (or 2 to 3 big handfuls of cooked large white beans such as corona, lima, gigante)
1/4 tsp fine grain sea salt
1 clove garlic, minced
1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
Scant 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
Zest of 1 lemon
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (optional)
Wash kale raab, shake off as much water as you can. Set aside.
Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in the widest skillet you own. Add the beans in a single layer. Stir to coat the beans, then let them sit long enough to brown lightly on one side, about 3 or 4 minutes, before turning to brown the other side, also about 3 or 4 minutes. The beans should be golden and a bit crunchy on the outside.
Add the kale and salt to the pan and cover, cooking for less than a minute, just long enough for the kale to lose a bit of its structure. Add the garlic, stir, then grate the nutmeg over the top and stir. Add the lemon juice and the lemon zest. Remove from heat and serve dusted with Parmigiano - Reggiano.