About Cabbage Raab

Eliza with green cabbage raab

We get pretty excited about raabs, especially cabbage raab, at this time of year.

In the spring, we are all getting just a little tired of root vegetables, even if they are delicious. Just in time, the brassicae send up their flowering heads and they are sweet and oh, so tender. We call these shoots “raab,” not to be confused with broccoli rabe, which is actually a variety of broccoli in and of itself.

One of the sweeter raabs that we have at Nash’s is from green cabbage. Other raabs come from various kales, Brussels sprouts, arugula, mizuna and collards. But the cabbage raab seems to put all its natural sugars into its growth in the spring.

Brassicae raabs are thought to detoxify carcinogens and are useful in many forms. Almost all parts (stems, roots, flowers, leaves and seeds) can be used as food. They are crunchy and much sweeter than you would imagine.

Have you tried this recipe? Tell us how it turned out!

Savoy Cabbage Raab and Pork

A jaunty bunch of savoy cabbage raab

Savoy cabbage raab in its full glory.

3-4 slices bacon or pork belly, cut into small pieces
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 bunches Savoy cabbage raab, washed and ends trimmed
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/8 tsp. cayenne (optional)
Whole grains or brown rice (optional)

Saute bacon or pork belly with garlic in a frying pan until the bacon starts to brown. Remove and set aside.

Cut raab (stalk, leaves, florets and all) into one-inch pieces. Add olive oil to the pork drippings and saute raab until it starts to wilt. Cover and let it cook for a few minutes more until tender.

Remove from heat and stir in pork and garlic. Add salt and pepper to taste and a little cayenne if you like a bit of a kick. This tastes great on a bed of brown rice or on cooked whole grain, like triticale or rye berries.

Have you tried this recipe? Tell us how it turned out!

What is raab? And how do I eat it?

Introducing: raabs!

“I haven’t seen greens at the farmer’s market for weeks — and now suddenly all my favorite farmers are proclaiming the deliciousness of this raab stuff. But what is raab? And how to I eat it?”

First, what are raabs?

Raabs are harbingers of springtime in the Northwest. When the weather starts to warm, plants in the brassica family (which includes kales, cabbages, Brussels sprouts, etc.) send stalks of flowers up to the sky. These structures are called “raabs.”

Why should I love raabs?

Raabs are tender and sweet, because brassica plants produce sugar as anti-freeze during the winter.

Lacinato raab

Raabs are fully edible, flowers and all.

How can I eat raabs?

You can eat raabs raw or cooked, and every part is edible — that includes the stalks, the leaves, and the flowers too! Chop your raabs raw into salads, or lightly steam a handful to let the tender texture and the sweetness shine. Drizzle oil on them and briefly grill or broil them. Use them any way you might use kale or asparagus.

Why should I eat raabs immediately?

Raabs are only around for a short time in the spring. As soon as the raab flowers open, we must disk the plants into the ground so they don’t cross-pollinate with any of our seed crops. Also, we need to prep the soil as soon as we can for the next round of crops.

Raabs can be important to farmers because selling them provides the farm with income in the spring, when we have very little else to sell. At the same time, we have a lot of costs in the spring, as we prep our soil, start seeds, transplant seedlings, and repair broken equipment. We love raabs for many reasons!

Let’s take a look at some examples.

lacinato kale raab

Lacinato kale raab: Kale raabs tend to look like baby versions of their grownup counterparts. In this lacinato kale raab, the little leaves are bumpy and textured like normal lacinato kale. In this bunch, the flower heads are only just starting to emerge.

One bunch of green kale raab, against a background of Nash boxes

Green kale raab: the leaves and flowers are so tender, and the stalks are super-sweet.

red kale raab

Red kale raab: Here’s a raab that will add gorgeous color to a salad or side dish.

red russian kale raab

Red Russian kale raab: This tender kale produces delicate baby leaves with its flowering stalks.

Red cabbage raab

Red cabbage raab: Cabbage raab leaves tend to be rounded and spoon-shaped.

Green cabbage raab

Green cabbage raab: It can be hard to tell green cabbage raab apart from collard raab and Brussels sprout raab, but they’re all worth trying!

A jaunty bunch of savoy cabbage raab

Savoy cabbage raab: Its little round leaves look a bit like small collard leaves with a lacinato-like texture.

Collard raab

Collard raab: If the leaves on your collard raab are large enough, they start to look like their grown-up versions, just smaller.

rutabaga raab

Rutabaga raab can be a little spicy when eaten raw, just like arugula raab — which are both excellent when chopped into salads.

Enjoy all the varieties of raabs before they’re gone!

Have you tried this recipe? Tell us how it turned out!

Kale Flowers with Lemon and Butter

Lacinato raab

It’s spring, it’s finally spring, and the kale is abloom!

1/2 pound kale flowers, stems and leaflets
1 Tbsp. (or so) of butter
Juice from half a lemon
Splash of white wine or sherry
Pinch of salt

Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, and melt the butter (not oil, please). Once the butter is melted, give the cleaned and prepped kale (flowers, stems and leaflets) one last rinse. Then, add the whole lot (still wet) to the pan. The kale should be moist enough for the sauté, but don’t hesitate to add a splash of water or chicken broth if the pan starts to dry.

Sauté over medium-high heat for a few minutes, until the leaves wilt and the stems are fork tender.

Add the lemon juice and a splash of wine (not too much — a tablespoon or two is probably perfect), sauté the kale for a moment longer, and then serve it while still hot.

That’s it! Very very simple, and extremely tasty. After all, it’s lemon, butter and wine. What’s not to like!

Recipe adapted from outlawgarden.com

Have you tried this recipe? Tell us how it turned out!

Kale Raab with Lemon and Butter

One bunch of green kale raab, against a background of Nash boxes

This simple recipe is a perfect side dish to any spring meal.

1 bunch kale raab, stalks and leaflets
1 tablespoon butter
Juice from half a lemon
Splash of white wine or sherry

Melt butter in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Cut the very ends off the raab and rinse well. Then, add the whole lot (still wet) to the pan. The kale should be moist enough for the sauté, but don’t hesitate to add a splash of water or chicken broth if the pan starts to dry. Sauté over medium-high heat for a few minutes, until the leaves wilt and the stems are fork tender.

Add the lemon juice and a splash of wine. Sauté the kale for a moment longer, and serve while still hot.

Recipe adapted from OutlawGarden.com.

Have you tried this recipe? Tell us how it turned out!

About Organic Raabs — the Best of Spring!

raabs

Green kale raab, Nash’s red kale raab, and collard raab are just a few of the many sweet and tender varieties of raab. Get to know them all!

Raab is what we call the tender new shoots that make their appearance every spring from overwintered brassicae crops like kale, arugula, Brussels sprouts, collards, mustards and cabbage. What we call “raab” is different from broccoli rabe, which is actually a cross between broccoli and turnip.

If we were to let the raab continue to grow, it would eventually produce seed heads by summer, but the stems would be woody and inedible. During these few short spring weeks when raab is tender and sweet, it pours its energy into the flowering tops, giving them an extra boost of nutrients.

Raabs are rich sources of fiber, vegetable protein, omega-3s, anti-oxidants, anti-inflammatory compounds, B-complex vitamins, and unique phytonutrients called glucosinolates. Glucosinolates account for the much-studied anti-cancer properties of this family of vegetables.

These succulent veggie tops are easy to prepare and delicious as a side dish or cut up raw in salads. Don’t shy away from eating the whole thing.

A very simple and easy to prepare any kind of raab is to cut it into bite-sized pieces, lightly sauté it in olive oil with some chopped garlic and salt and pepper. You could also crumble some bacon on top, or sprinkle some chili flakes on it.

Have you tried this recipe? Tell us how it turned out!

Pasta with Garlicky Kale Raab, Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Nash’s Sweet Italian Sausage

lacinato kale raab

If you don’t already have a favorite kale raab, try lacinato kale raab. It’s tender and has lovely miniature lacinato leaves, complete with the bumpy texture that is distinctively lacinato.

1 bunch kale raab
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoons butter
1 large shallot
4 large cloves garlic
1/2 pound Nash’s Sweet Italian Sausage
1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes
1/2 pound pasta, any type — or try quinoa or couscous!
Pinch hot pepper flakes
Sea salt and/or white pepper to taste
Romano or parmesan cheese

Wash kale raab. Cut shallot and garlic cloves into thin slices. Heat olive oil and butter in a larger skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and shallots. Add sausage. Sauté until cooked through.

Add sun-dried tomatoes, a bit of butter with shiitake mushrooms and hot pepper flakes. Sauté a couple minutes more, until hot and slightly softened.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and, five minutes before its cooking time is up, add the kale raab. It will seem like too much for the water, but the raab will wilt and cook alongside the pasta. Before draining the pasta and raab, save a small amount of the pasta water and add this to the sausage mixture, scrapping up brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Mix in pasta and raab, drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat until creamy. Sprinkle with grated cheese and enjoy!

We thank Amy Borg for this recipe.

Have you tried this recipe? Tell us how it turned out!

Caramelized Leek Pasta with Fresh Raab

red cabbage raab and green cabbage raab

Red cabbage raab and green cabbage raab are excellent options for this wonderfully seasonal recipe!

1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 large leek, or two small leeks, greens and all thinly sliced (about 1 pound)
1 bunch raab, any variety
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 pound pasta (linguine or other long, thin shape)

Saute leek over medium heat in olive oil, stirring occasionally until golden brown, about 15-20 minutes. Make sure heat is low enough so leeks don’t burn or cook to quickly.

Meanwhile, bring several quarts of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Roughly chop the whole bunch of raab — stems, leaves and all. Pop them into the boiling water for 2 minutes, and then drain them and set aside.

Add the garlic to the pan with the leeks and cook for just one minute. Then add the raab and salt and pepper and cook everything together, stirring occasionally, until the raab is tender, about 5 minutes. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust as desired.

While preparing the leek sauce, cook and drain the pasta, making sure that some liquid still sticks to the noodles. Toss the hot pasta with the raab-leek sauce. Mix well and transfer portions to warm pasta bowls. Drizzle each bowl with olive oil to taste and serve immediately.

Have you tried this recipe? Tell us how it turned out!

Vegetable Tempura

The Carrot over the Stick

Raw veggies are absolutely lovely, but sometimes it’s fun to mix it up with tempura for a special occasion.

Serves four to six as an appetizer.

Dipping Sauce
2 scallions, minced
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon grated ginger root
2 minced garlic cloves
1 teaspoon dry mustard

Batter
2 cups all purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups cold water
1/4 cup dark sesame oil

Veggies
5 cups seasonal fresh veggies, such as broccoli, zucchini, carrots, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, etc.

For the dipping sauce, combine the scallions, soy sauce, water, vinegar, honey, ginger, garlic, and mustard in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate for an hour to let the flavors blend.

For the batter, mix together the flour and baking powder. Add the cold water and sesame oil all at once and whisk until the consistency of pancake batter and very smooth. Refrigerate until ready to prepare the tempura.

Blot the vegetables dry, season with salt and pepper and dip into the batter. Coat them evenly.

Pour the oil into a tall pot to a depth of 3 inches. Heat over medium heat until around 350 degrees F. Work in batches to avoid crowding. Slip the batter-coated vegetables into the hot oil, deep-frying until the batter is a golden brown and puffy, 3-4 minutes. Turn the veggies so they cook evenly. Remove from the pot with tongs. Drain on an absorbent towel. Serve with dipping sauce.

Have you tried this recipe? Tell us how it turned out!

Raab and Carrot Salad

Raabs: green cabbage raab, Nash's red kale raab

Try different raabs, or a mixture of raabs, in this lovely salad, such as the sweet green cabbage raab (my favorite, at right) or Nash’s red kale raab (middle) to add vibrant color.

1 to 2 bunches raab (1 pound)
1 pound thin carrots
1 tablespoon sweet sherry or sweet vermouth
1 tablespoon cider vinegar or balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon ground hot pepper
2 tablespoons peanut or corn oil
1 tablespoon Asian (dark) sesame oil

Lightly steam the raab until barely tender. Remove from pan and allow to drain and cool. Steam carrots whole until they lose their raw crunch but are not cooked through. Let cool.

In a small dish, mix sherry, vinegar, honey, salt and hot pepper to taste, stirring to blend. Add peanut and sesame oils.

Line up the raab on a cutting board. Slice at a sharp angle to form long oblongs, 1/8 inch thick; add to dish. Cut carrots the same way and add to dish. Toss with dressing. Season to taste and chill.

Have you tried this recipe? Tell us how it turned out!