You’ve eaten broccoli rabe before; it’s the svelte, leafy cousin of traditional broccoli. But did you know that when you buy it young and fresh, straight from the market, you can eat the lemon-yellow flowers too?
“Of course,” says Neraim of Lani’s Farm, bagging up bushels behind her stall at the Union Square Farmers’ Market. “They’re very pretty, and they taste great.”
Look for bunches with a bit of snap and crisp to them, and give a pass to those whose stalks seem flabby or soft. And you’re aiming for vivid green stems, popping with blossoms for maximum edible beauty.
Broccoli rabe has a reputation for bitterness, and it can certainly get more astringent the older it gets (flowers are a sign that it’s a little older too), so taste it raw and see if you like it. If it’s too strong, boil in generously salted water for a few minutes and shock in ice water before sautéing. This miraculously tames most of the bitterness. That said, the skinny stems on the market right now tasted perfect to me.
“Just trim a little bit on the bottom, then sauté in hot olive oil, a little garlic,” says Neraim. “Perfect!”
Don’t feel like cooking? Check out the spicy rabe with ricotta salata at Mario Batali favorite Otto (1 Fifth Avenue).
How to eat it:
(to taste, blanch, refresh, then…)
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