Oh how I love my rabe!
When the temperatures drop, most folks start thinking about pies and stews, but for me, cold weather is all about Van Cheeseman’s broccoli rabe. It’s my ultimate comfort food.
Cheeseman from Flora at Bluebird Farm in Holly Springs is one of handful of farmers who sell produce, meat, and eggs during the winter months at the farmers market in the parking lot next to Tsunami held on Saturdays, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
I stopped by Saturday on the late side and was thrilled to see plenty of broccoli rabe still piled on Cheeseman’s table. I snatched up two bunches, because its leafy greens are packed with nutrition and flavor.
Rabe, also called rapini, is actually a brassica, so it’s related to cabbage, kale, and mustard. Its lovely flowers look like tiny heads of broccoli, hence its confusing name.
If you don’t know how to cook rabe, just ask Cheeseman. He’s happy to explain. I tweaked his instructions, adding beets and cannellini beans and a side of cornbread. Here’s my recipe:
Broccoli Rabe with Beans and Beets
2 tablespoons olive oil
One-half medium onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 large bunch of broccoli rabe
19 oz. can of cannellini beans
One-half cup of roasted diced tomatoes
One-half cup of roasted chopped beets
Roast a few beets the night before. Peel, chop, and store in refrigerator.
Clean rabe. (I rinse it twice in the sink and then spin it in the lettuce spinner.) Chop and set aside.
Dice garlic in food processor. Add onion and pulse again.
Sauté onion and garlic in a scant two tablespoons of olive oil.
Add a little chicken stock so onions and garlic can cook until without burning.
Add the rabe and wilt. Add about half a cup of chicken stock and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes. Season with black pepper.
Drain the beans, reserving liquid. Add to pan, along with half a cup of Hunt’s roasted diced tomatoes. Add a little liquid (stock or liquid from the beans) if needed. Add chopped beets at the end and sauté until heated through.