Friday, February 20, 2009

Broccoli Rabe ..the mustard family and Pavone Sage Vinegar

No excuses for eating not seasonally and locally along the Russian River in Sonoma County, California. A big bowl of broccoli rabe from Orchard Farms -purchased at the Wednesday Santa Rosa Farmers Market and seasoned with Pavone Sage Vinegar (pineapple sage grown along the Russian River in Forestville.)

As a member of the Brassica (cole) family, broccoli rabe's kin include cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kohlrabi, Chinese cabbage, rutabaga, turnips and broccoli. Actually, broccoli rabe and broccoli are more like distant cousins many times removed. At harvest time, the only physical resemblance between the two is the unopened broccoli-like buds that form on broccoli rabe. It's closely related to the turnip and often referred to as a turnip green. It's also referred to as a member of the mustard family, which all Brassica are.

To make matters more confusing, broccoli rabe, like an aunt who marries often, has several monikers. This peppery plant is also called broccoli raab, rapini, rappa, Italian turnip, fall and spring rabe and broccoli de rape, among many others. Confusion arises when Italian sprouting broccoli is referred to as broccoli rabe. The Italians introduced broccoli to the United States almost 100 years ago, and sprouting broccoli (Brassica oleracea) is simply broccoli to us here.

I met Jane and Don Pavone mixing up a new batch of their award winning vinegar. They are a welcome addition to the Russian River artisan food community. Their vinegar won a gold medal at this year's Harvest Fair.

I sauteed the broccoli rabe and added some cooked cannellini beans and finished it with sage vinegar. Add a soft cooked egg and it could be the West County version of salad lyonnaise. Salad Guernnaise perhaps :)))

The PavoneSonoma web site offers interesting serving and recipe suggestions for vinegars as does this article from the LA Times

wine recommendation for the broccoli rabe: a pinot grigio is a good choice

The sage vinegar is also a good ingredient to use in cocktails

A sage vinegar Bloody Mary sounds great to me!