Spring is the perfect time to look for and to enjoy a little raab. Belonging to the mustard family and also known as rapini, raab is closely related to turnip greens. It is sometimes mistaken for a type of broccoli because very small broccoli-like heads appear on most varieties.
It is often planted in the fall when it grows to several inches, and then remains partially green but somewhat wilted looking over the winter. When the weather turns slightly warm in early spring, raab begins to actively grow again and is ready to harvest in April and May.
This baguette sandwich features sautéed raab, mushrooms and red peppers. To soften the baguette a little (although this step is not necessary) I like to spread a little Vegenaise on the baguette slices and grill them just before making the sandwich. You may choose to do this or not. Also, your choice, the cheese is a wonderful addition to the fresh grilled veggies but if you want this to be vegan, just leave it off. No worries!
2 pounds raab (any woody stems trimmed off)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (divided)
8 ounces Cremini mushrooms (stems removed – cut into quarters)
1 small red onion (peeled and chopped)
4 cloves garlic (peeled and minced)
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup roasted red peppers (chopped)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 fresh baguette (cut into 4 pieces and halved)
3 thick deli slices provolone cheese (cut in half)
Bring 2 inches of water to a boil in large saucepan. Add raab, cover, and cook for 4 minutes. Uncover, turn rabb with tongs, and cook 4 minutes more. Drain. Cool 5 minutes and then chop coarsely. Remove to a bowl and set aside.
Using a large skillet, sauté mushrooms in half of the olive oil over medium high heat for 5 – 6 minutes. Remove to a bowl and set aside.
Heat remaining 1½ tablespoons oil in the skillet over medium heat. Sauté onions and garlic for 8 minutes. Add red pepper flakes, raab, and mushrooms and sauté for 5 minutes more. Stir in balsamic vinegar, and cook until all liquid has evaporated. Transfer to a large bowl, cover and set aside.
Cut the baguette in half lengthwise and then, keeping the halves together, slice it into thirds (6 total halves). Spread Vegenaise on each half and grill over medium high heat for a couple of minutes.
Divide raab mixture among the 3 bread bottoms and top each with 2 of the cheese halves. Place sandwich bottoms in the oven and broil for 2 minutes or until cheese melts. Remove from oven and place tops over sandwiches and serve while still warm.
Note: Instead of using balsamic vinegar (which is wonderful) I like to use 2 tablespoons of “Wizard’s Organic Hot Stuff.” This is a locally made sauce (Carpinteria) so it may not be available at your store. If you can find it, however, try using it in place of the balsamic. It is amazingly tasty without being truly “hot.” It is the perfect complement to an early spring sandwich.