It’s spring! It’s spring! Well, all right, so it isn’t really technically spring for another couple of weeks, but greens are returning to the farmers markets and it was over 60 last weekend! That’s spring enough for me! One of our favorite spring greens is lacinato raab. Lacinato raab is actually lacinato kale, harvested just after the plant starts to bud, with tender leaves and flower heads still attached (and sometimes even flowering). It is sometimes sold under the name lacinato rabe or flowering kale. The leaves of lacinato raab are small and tender and you can even just tear off leaves and flowers and eat them raw in salads. However, cooking, particularly at high heat, brings out a wonderful sweetness.
You can cook lacinato raab just like you would cook mature kale, which is to say that you can do nearly anything with it. Tonight I felt like something spicy and bold, so I riffed Steamy Kitchen’s Black Bean and Garlic Clams and combined some black bean sauce with garlic and a bit of rice wine vinegar.
I’ll give you a recipe with proportions in just a few more words, but really, that’s all I did. Stir-fried lacinato raab, tossed at the last minute with black bean and garlic sauce. The richness of the black bean sauce combined with the heat from our exceedingly spicy garlic and the sweetness of the kale. This is a simple, quick, and delicious side dish.
- 1 bunch of lacinato raab, stems removed
- 2 Tbsp black bean sauce
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 Tbsp brown rice vinegar
- Red pepper flakes (optional)
- High heat oil such as grapeseed for frying
- In a small bowl, mix the black bean sauce, garlic, and brown rice vinegar (and the red pepper flakes if using).
- In a large skillet, heat a tablespoon of high heat oil over medium-high heat.
- Add the kale and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring regularly. You want the kale to start to crisp.
- Turn off the heat and mix in the black bean sauce.
Notes: Start with only half of the black bean sauce. Black bean sauce is strong and salty, so you don’t want to overpower the dish without meaning to. So add half of the sauce, taste, and if the overwhelming flavor is still kale, then add a little bit more. You’re aim should be for a good mix of kale and black bean sauce flavor. The garlic doesn’t get very cooked. If you’d prefer your garlic crispy, then slice it rather than mince it and throw it in with the kale. It’ll get nice and crispy and trust me… crispy garlic is awesome.
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