Eat your flowers!
Okay, that’s not something I’ve heard too often in my life, nor something I’ve really participated in doing. Decorative edible flowers on dessert is a concept I’m ambivalent about, and I really am not a fan of rosewater. Floral is not my taste of choice. My brain starts firing off, “Why are you drinking this bottle of perfume, Allison?!?!”
However, the taste of broccoli rabe’s little yellow flowers do not fill my mouth with the scent of a strong bouquet of flowers, but rather a slight nutty flavor that’s quite enjoyable!
At my local farmers’ market, one vendor has been selling rabe of all sorts – broccoli, kale, and mustard – with yellow and red flowers speckling all of the bunches. They’re so beautiful! I bought the flowery broccoli rabe on a whim, researching whether the flowers were edible. I learned that flowering broccoli rabe should be eaten sooner than later, but a nice blanch followed by a sauté should get rid of any bitter flavor some people may experience with broccoli rabe.
Luckily, I bought a lot of broccoli rabe for $3, which allowed me to experiment with a little less guilt if I screwed up the first few times.
I experienced trial but little error. Lucky me!
The blanching helps bring out the vibrant green, and the leaving the flowers on simply gave it a pop of color. I’m not sure if it added any discernible taste notes, since the garlic – of course – was the predominant flavor, but hey, I see no reason to take ’em off. Leaving them on is up to you!
So go ahead. Eat your greens…and eat your flowers!
Sautéed Broccoli Rabe with Garlic & Pepper
(Serves 2 – 3 as a side dish)
– 1 large bunch broccoli rabe (roughly 1 lb.)
– 2 tablespoons olive oil
– 2 cloves garlic, minced
– 1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
– Salt, to taste
Before We Get Started…
– If you purchase broccoli rabe with flowers, of course, it is up to you whether you want to remove them!
1.) Trim the woodier / harder ends of your broccoli rabe and discard / save for composting.
2.) Fill a large bowl with cold water – add ice cubes, if preferred – and place in refrigerator to chill while water is brought to a boil and broccoli rabe blanches. (see #3).
3.) Bring a large pot of water to a slow boil. Add broccoli rabe and boil for 3 – 5 minutes or until are tender. Remove chilled bowl of water from fridge; use tongs to gently remove from boiling water to the chilled water. Allow to sit for 5 minutes, drain water, and lay broccoli rabe on clean cloth or paper towels. Pat dry to remove as much moisture as possible.
4.) In a large sauté pan (a 12″ pan works well here!), add olive oil and turn heat to medium. Once oil shimmers, add garlic and sauté for 30 seconds; do not allow garlic to brown! Add broccoli rabe and sauté for five minutes. Add pepper and, toss in pan, and cook for one additional minute. Salt to taste, and remove from heat. Serve immediately!