Can you suggest a great recipe for a green vegetable with lots of fiber?

Paula asked Lauren:

Dear Lauren,

Lauren, your short ribs recipe looks great, and I want to serve it with a green vegetable with a lot of fiber. Can you suggest a great recipe for Swiss chard or broccoli rabe?

Lauren says:

Paula, actually broccoli rabe (also called brocoletti di rape, rape or rapini) and Swiss chard can be prepared the same way (as can Kale). The only difference would be in the type of trimming and the time they take to cook, both of which are negligible.

Broccoli rabe is fiber-rich and an excellent source of vitamin C and a significant source of vitamin A and potassium. It’s available year-round, and is probably one of my favorite vegetables, with its toothsome texture and unique flavor that has slightly bitter undertones and yet leaves the mouth with a deeply savory (almost peppery) finish. Biologically, broccoli rabe is related to the cabbage and turnip family and it’s sold in bunches that are completely edible. All that’s needed before cooking broccoli rabe is to trim off any dry woody stem-ends and then cut the rest of the bunch, including the stalks, into 2-to 3-inch lengths going all the way up, through the bushy leaves and flowerets. Many people suggest blanching (partially cooking) broccoli rabe and then refreshing it in an ice water bath, before finishing it off in a hot sauté pan. They claim this removes some of its inherent bitterness. I never do this, however, because I love the unique flavor of broccoli rabe (and so do my kids) and I also feel that this initial parboiling leaves this (and all leafy vegetables) overly saturated, thus unable to absorb the flavorful ingredients to come (namely, best-quality olive oil, lots of garlic, crushed red pepper flakes and chicken stock (or vegetable broth, if desired).

Swiss chard, which comes in a green, red and rainbow variety, is a delicious leafy vegetable and an excellent source of vitamin A and a significant source of vitamin C. The “red” variety is extra beautiful (and a bit milder in flavor), with its deep red stalks, ribs and veining that runs throughout the big, floppy, dark green leaves. Be sure to wash these leaves well, since their crevices can hide pockets of grit. After washing, trim the stalks, pulling out any extra thick cores to any leaves. Cut the stalks into 1 to 2-inch pieces and then stack the leaves. Cut the stacked leaves into 1-inch thick shreds. Spin the shreds dry, then sauté the stalks first and, when just tender (after about 5 minutes) add the leaves. When wilted in the hot olive oil, add garlic, red pepper flakes and stock and then braise as you would broccoli rabe (see recipe link below).

For a favorite recipe, that illustrates how easy it is to perfectly cook broccoli rabe, try my Garlic-Seared Broccoli Rabe with or without pasta. The broccoli rabe recipe is applicable to Swiss chard; just follow the trimming and cooking instructions I’ve given above.

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