Farmers' Market Finds: Scapes and Rabes, Beyond Broccoli and Garlic
If you haunt your farmers market looking for signs of spring, you’re probably familiar with garlic scapes and broccoli rabe...they’re some of the first greens you’ll find. But scapes and rabe come in more varieties than garlic and broccoli. Here’s the skinny on what they are and what other varieties to look for.
These shoots are one of the first edible greens to crop up in spring. Scapes are simply flower stalks that grow out of the bulbs of garlic, onions and leeks. At the top of each is a bulb that will flower if left unplucked. For eating, though, scapes are picked when the green stalk is sturdy and the bulb is still a bulb. Scapes taste like the alliums they grow from, and you can use them in places you would use chopped onion.
To cook scapes, remove the bulbs and use the stalks. Chop them finely and saute to soften. Add them to omelets or quiche, blitz them into a pesto or preserve them by pickling.
Like scapes, rabe (also referred to as raab or rapini) is the outgrowth of more recognizable plants. Most greens, left to grow wild, will sprout and flower, turning into rabe. At the end of a harvest season, if plants like kale, broccoli, mustard and collard greens are left in the field, they’ll go to seed and sprout, even forming yellow flowers. That entire plant (including the leaves and flowers) is edible.
One of the easiest and best ways to cook any kind of rabe is to blanch it and then saute it in olive oil and garlic.