Shockingly Good Raab
How to cook spring’s first bouquet
By Ellen Jackson
Photo by Camille Storch
Raabs are the budding shoots of brassica family members, including arugula, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, collards, kale, mustard, or turnips that have bolted,
or gone to seed, sprouting naturally after overwintering in the ground.
The best way to prepare raabs is with a two-step cooking method I like to call the blanch-sauté. Blanching is the process of cooking an item briefly in boiling water, then stopping the cooking (aka shocking) by plunging it into cold water.
The next step, sautéing over high heat with a fat, introduces flavor and finishes what the blanching started, leaving you with perfectly cooked, vibrantly colored, and full-flavored raab. Where you take it from there is up to you.
1 bunch raab, washed, ends trimmed and divided into equal pieces
1 Tbsp fine sea salt (per 2 quarts water)
2 Tbsp fat
2 small cloves garlic (optional) 1/2 tsp chile flakes (optional)
1. Bring a pot of water to a boil over high heat; it should be large enough to hold the entire bunch of raab comfortably and allow the stalk sufficient space to move around. While the water is coming to a boil, fill a large bowl with cold water and a handful of ice cubes, and make certain you have tongs, a strainer, or a colander handy.
2. When the water comes to a rolling boil, add the salt and raab. Blanch for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally, then use tongs or a strainer to remove the raab and place directly into the cold water. Let it sit for a minute or two before removing the stalks from the water and draining well.
3. Warm your fat of choice in a shallow, wide sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add garlic or chile flakes, if you’re using either. Add the raab and, using tongs, toss the stalks occasion- ally so that they’re evenly coated and get equal exposure to the heat. Continue to cook for 3 to 5 minutes until the raab is al dente. Season to taste with additional salt, freshly ground black pepper, cheese, or fresh herbs.
Ellen Jackson is a Portland-based writer, cookbook author, and food stylist.