Rabe

Returning home yesterday I saw a familiar sight, wild broccoli rabe! The tall slender stalks topped with bright lemon yellow flowers was unmistakable! Seeing them brought a rush of memories to mind. I was a young newlywed when my love affair with this bitter green emerged. My mother-in-law was staying with her daughter in Drexel Hill. My husband and I arrive around lunchtime. Sunday dinners were always early in the afternoon however, Mom ate by the clock  and was sitting at the table in the kitchen getting ready to have a snack. In front of her was a small bowl filled with a dark green, looking something like spinach. Now Mom was always introducing me to new foods that would expand my palate. She graciously offered me a taste and before I knew it I had eaten it all! It was Springtime and she explained that this green, called broccoli rabe, was only available at this time of year. A few weeks later we were all having dinner with my husband’s cousin and broccoli rabe was on the table. They shared with us how they picked this bitter green wild in California while visiting my husband’s brother. Al, my husband’s cousin mentioned that he thought he saw a similar looking green in fields nearby. The investigation began and so we discovered wild broccoli rabe. That first year we picked so much we had to buy a freezer just to keep it in! My mother-in-law treated the find like gold in a vault. For several years we had a field close by on Kresson Road were we would pick the very tender tops, filling several bags. One Spring I was 8 months pregnant with my second baby girl. There was no way I would let that broccoli rabe get away, so even with my huge belly I went out to pick.  Then progress moved in and our field became a housing development. We didn’t give up, a road trip further out in the country proved fruitful and we found another field however, over the years the fields disappeared. Today you can find broccoli rabe year round but, especially in the Spring broccoli rabe is at its finest! I enjoy this bitter green often and with every bite I am reminded of many meals were this veggie graced our table. For those of you who say no to this bitter green you haven’t had at my table. I’ll make you a lover of broccoli rabe!

  
Broccoli  Rabe sautéed with garlic, olive oil and Italian sausage.

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