Star Ingredient

Star Ingredient: Kale Raab

This week’s Star Ingredient is Kale Raab.  I know what you’re all probably thinking…is this yet another way for Chef Diana to get Johnny Kat to eat kale?  I assure you it’s not! “Raabs”, be they kale, broccoli or cabbage are just the flowers that members of the Brassica genus (from our favorite veggie family) produce when they start to bolt (which means go to seed) after the long winter. They’re harvested before the small flower buds have yet to open and are tender and delicious.  One more sign that Spring has sprung!! 

Really?  We’re Eating Flowers Now?

Yes…yes, we are!  These particular flowers are good for you and tasty as all get out!  We can go on for days about how super-nutritious kale is and this is just one more way to enjoy it.  Savoring kale raab might even become a new way for you to celebrate Spring but just remember it’s a short-lived seasonal treat.  So bring on the raab!  BTW…the word “raab” is derived from the Italian word “rapa” which means turnip…another veggie in the Brassica genus that also can be consumed when bolting.  Don’t confuse raabs with broccolini (broccoli rabe as some call it)…that’s an entirely different veggie.

Kale raab tends to be small to medium in size and composed of stems, flower buds and leaves…all of which can be consumed.  Depending on the variety and maturity of the buds, it will be juicy, earthy, sweet, nutty, peppery and crisp.  Interesting fact…the reason kale raab is tender and sweet is because brassica plants produce sugar to act as an anti-freeze during the winter. 

How Nutritious Is Kale Raab?

It’s another one of those ACK Veggies!!  In other words, it’s an excellent source of Vitamins A, C and K!  It also contains Vitamin B6, magnesium, calcium, copper, manganese and potassium. It’s also thought that raabs as a whole can detoxify carcinogens!  How cool is that?!

Let’s Get Cooking!

Just like its season, kale raab’s storage time is short.  It’s best to use it within 2 – 3 days. The easiest way to prepare kale raab is to simply sauté it in some olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, and enjoy. The thicker, lower parts of the stems may be a bit tougher than the rest; you might chop them into one-inch lengths and blanch (boil for a minute or two) first, to cook them slightly and soften them up before adding them to the blossoms and thinner stems in the sauté pan. But that’s just for starters!

Try steaming it or adding it to a stir-fry.  It’s great raw, too, as an addition to a mixed greens salad.  Or try roasting it until the stem is tender and the edges of the leaves get crispy.  One bunch is 3 – 5 servings which will give you an idea as to how much you’ll need for your meal.  Chef Diana will be teaching us this week how to use it in a pasta dish so definitely check out her Cook-a-long video for it.  You can also find the recipe in our blog.

So don’t miss out on this special harbinger of Spring!  Like I said earlier…Bring On The Raab!

-Johnny Kat