Paul harvested his garlic and raked the area where it grew. It was mid-summer and he suddenly had a large, empth area in his vegetable garden. Maybe he still had time to grow something else.
“I need something that will grow quickly and not be hurt by the cooler temperatures in September,” he thought. Paul opened the shoebox where he kept his seed packets, searching to see if he had something appropriate. “Ha!” he said out loud, pulling a packet from the pile. “This is just the plant for the job. Fast growing, tasty and versatile in the kitchen!” Thinking about the stir fry, omelets and pasta dishes that he’d soon be preparing, he went into the garden with the packet of Broccoli rabe seeds.
Name: Brassica ruvo, aka Broccoli rabe or rapini.
Type of Plant: A green cruciferous vegetable, one of the “bitter greens” similar to mustard greens. We eat the stems, leaves and buds which look similar to tiny broccoli heads.
Why I love this: This fast-growing vegetable is one of the so-called “super foods” because it offers so many health benefits. It is packed with vitamins A and C, not to mention vitamin K. It’s high in fiber and contains lutein, and antioxidant that protects your retinas from damaging free radicals. But best of all it’s easy to grow and delicious in a number of dishes.
A Word to the Wise: Watch out for flea beetle damage early in the season, although the small holes in the leaves aren’t noticeable once the vegetable is cooked. Spray with Bt or spinosad later in the season for cabbage moth larvae.
One of the tastiest ways to prepare this plant is to chop it and sauté with garlic and olive oil. Add red pepper if desired, and season with salt and pepper. Toss this with the pasta of your choice, using a couple of tablespoons of the pasta cooking water to moisten as you combine. Serve with grated parmesan cheese.