By Devra Gartenstein & Rachel Linkhart
Raabs are vegetable teasers. Also known as rapini, raab is a young, flowering version of a vegetable in the cabbage family, like kale or broccoli or Brussels sprouts. It’s one of the first spring vegetables to show up, along with asparagus. Raabs have leaves and stems and flowers, which are all edible.
One of the simplest things to do with raabs is to cut them up, saute them in olive oil with onion (or leek), garlic, salt, and pepper. Then finish with a little something acidic, like lemon or balsamic vinegar. Serve as is, or on a crusty baguette with your favorite spread.
You can also make a simple pesto. Bring a pot of water to a boil, salt generously, and drop in the raabs. Let them boil away for just a couple of minutes or until their color has become quite vibrant. Drain and rinse in cold water to stop the cooking. Pulse in a food processor with a couple of cloves of garlic and olive oil until it’s reached your desired consistency. Use as a pasta sauce or dip. Best when eaten right away, but can be stored in the fridge for a day or two.
Raab stems start to get tougher as the season progresses and the plants mature. When in doubt about how much of the stem to use, cut off a bit and taste it. If it’s too fibrous to chew, don’t use it. If it’s a little tough but not too woody to eat, just cut it nice and small.
Photo by OlyKraut/Wilder Projects