I find that my cravings start to shift this time of year. I'm feeling a little... done... with sweet root vegetables and craving crisp greens and other delights of early spring harvests. Since it's not time yet, I do find that many of my cravings are still satisfied with the rich dark leafy greens that are abundant this time of year.
Despite its name, this dark leafy green is actually a closer relative of the turnip family than broccoli, originally cultivated in the Mediterranean and in China. Broccoli and broccoli rabe look similar, but broccoli rabe's ruffled leaves and tiny florets have a softer look that's countered by a bitter flavor more reminiscent of kale than broccoli.
Its nutritional value is just as bold as its flavor. A one-cup serving has only 9 calories but provides more than 100% of our need of vitamin K and a very high % of vitamins A and C, folate, iron and calcium. Broccoli rabe has cancer-preventing properties due to bioactive compounds called sulforaphanes. These phytonutrients may protect against cancers of the stomach, lung, esophagus, colon and breast. Broccoli rabe also contains lutein, a phytonutrient that protects the retina of the eye from oxidative damage and may slow progression of macular degeneration and cataracts.
The finer points - The tough stem bottoms are easily removed before cooking. Blanching what's left for one minute in boiling water will reduce the bitterness considerably. Enjoy broccoli rabe steamed, sauteed, stir-fried or braised, just as with any greens.
More on Broccoli Rabe: http://www.reasors.com/healthwell/nutrition/nutrition-broccolirabe.php
Broccoli rabe with spaghetti and garlic
- 1 pound spaghetti ( I recommend Tinkyada for a gluten free pasta for this)
- 1 (1-lb) bunch broccoli rabe, base stems discarded and leaves and remaining stems cut into 2-inch pieces. . (you might steam the bottom stems longer and then incorporate to your dish after, or discard them. Your choice)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 5 garlic cloves, minced
- one yellow onion, sliced in thin moons.
- crushed red pepper to taste
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
Cook pasta according to package instructions. When pasta is 5 minutes from finished, add broccoli rabe to pot and continue to cook until pasta is al dente. Drain in a colander and transfer to a large serving bowl.
While pasta and Broccoli Rabe are cooking, saute garlic, onion, and pepper in olive oil. Pour over pasta broccoli combination and toss.
Optional, sprinkle with Parmesan!