Winter’s arrival here in the Yarra Valley has been anything but subtle. Last week the solstice brought with it rain, chilling wind and even snow in the mountains. Snow. In Australia. After all these years I still have trouble fathoming that concept. Despite the shorter days and soggy dog walks, I love winter–there’s just something about a roaring fire, warm cups of tea and of course, the comfort food. While many people associate winter food with stodgy, starchy meals they’ll have to spend the next 9 months working off, winter actually has some fantastic offerings. The markets are packed with winter vegetables such as kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, parsnips, cabbage and pumpkins. It’s also the time you might find something a bit unusual in the fruit and veggie section of the grocer. For me, it was broccoli rabe. While common in the U.S., I hadn’t really come across it here and couldn’t resist.
Despite it’s name (and it’s clusters of green buds) broccoli rabe isn’t broccoli at all. While it is a member of the brassica family, it’s more closely related to the turnip (minus the root veg part). Broccoli rabe is also know as Rapini and is common in Southern Italian cuisine. From my previous posts readers will know that I’m a big fan of using bitter greens to aid in digestive issues. Broccoli rabe is another great winter bitter with a nutty flavour and is packed with great winter nutritionals like vitamins A and C–which can support immune function. It also has a good whack of potassium, calcium, iron, protein and fibre. And as a member of the brassicas, it’s rich in phytochemicals like sulforaphane and indoles, which can aid our detoxification processes. What’s not to like?
So what do you do with this veg that resembles a fuzzy weed? Rabe can be added to soups and stir fries or as the Italians do: sauteed with garlic, onion and sea salt and served as a side. The bitterness of rabe can be lessened by blanching it for a few minutes before using it in cooking. I decided to incorporate mine into a nourishing breakfast:
Poached Eggs with Sauteed Broccoli Rabe and Prosciutto
- 1 bunch broccoli rabe, trimmed
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 slices prosciutto, broiled to crisp and finely chopped
- sea salt
- 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- fresh cracked black pepper
- 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- 4 eggs, poached
Bring a large pot of water and a pinch of sea salt to boil. Add rabe and blanch for 3-4 minutes. Drain in a colander and add some ice cubes and run under cold water to stop the cooking. Drain, wrap in paper towels and squeeze some of the moisture out (but not too hard).
Heat 2 teaspoons olive (or coconut oil) in a fry pan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and saute, stirring constantly until it just begins to brown, about 1 minute. Add rabe to the garlic and cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Stir through prosciutto (it’s just enough for flavour) and black pepper for 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and add cherry tomatoes to the mix. This allows you to just warm the tomatoes, holding their shape.
Divide between two plates. And top each plate with two poached eggs and sprinkle with ground black pepper. Enjoy!