In Season West Coast: Rapini

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Rapini or Broccoli Raab is my idea of a perfect cooking green. It’s sturdy, pungent and versatile. It has a slightly sweet flavor tempered with a turnip-like pungency.

It is, in fact, more closely related to turnips than to broccoli, though both are in the cruciferae family like the Brussels sprouts we talked about last week.

Rapini pairs well with strong flavors like garlic, Parmesan cheese, mushrooms, salty meats and anchovies, making it the perfect green to include in simple pasta dishes. It also has an affinity for fish sauce and oyster sauce, making it great in Asian dishes. In fact, Rapini, called Choy Sum in Chinese, is one of the most popular vegetables in Hong Kong and Southern China. Slightly different than thick-stalked Chinese Broccoli, to which it is closely related.

Winter time is when cooking greens like Rapini are at their best. The cold weather keeps them sweet, taming any potential bitterness.
Mariquita Farm
brings us some wonderful recipes.
Here’s a nice rundown of many of the cooking greens. And here’s a recipe for a Chinese preparation of Rapini or Choy Sum.

We’ve got plenty of time to enjoy all the cooking greens as the favas and asparagus and sweet peas won’t be harvested for quite awhile. What is your favorite green?

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