Technically speaking, there’s no such thing as “kale rabe”—the superfood love child of kale and broccoli rabe. But that’s what an enterprising Greenmaket farmer—presumably one with an advanced degree in marketing—was calling his floret-festooned overwintered Russian kale the other day at Union Square. Although the buds are a sign that the crop is about to bolt or go to seed, the leaves still taste bright and sweet, and kale aficionados consider the florets a rare treat. Try some in this recipe from Andrea Reusing’s terrific new cookbook before the ramps take over.
Andrea Reusing’s Kale Panini
2 bunches kale (about 1 pound)
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tbs. olive oil, plus more for grilling
1 tbs. red-wine vinegar
8 slices rustic sandwich bread
12 ounces crumbly fresh cheese, such as queso blanco or feta, broken into chunks
Pickled chile peppers
Freshly ground black pepper
(1) Stem kale, and tear leaves into small pieces. Working in batches, blanch the kale in boiling water for 3 minutes, until tender. (2) Use a slotted spoon to transfer each batch to a colander. (3) Let kale cool, then squeeze with hands to remove excess moisture. Preheat a panini press. Season the kale with salt. Add the oil, and toss well. Finish with the vinegar. Lay out 4 slices of the bread and top with equal parts kale and cheese; add chiles to taste. Season with salt and pepper, and top with the other slices of bread. Lightly oil the panini press, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for grilling the sandwiches. (Note: If you don’t have a panini press, use a large cast-iron skillet with another pan of the same size or a full tea kettle to weigh down the sandwiches.) Adapted from Cooking in the Moment, by Andrea Reusing (Clarkson Potter; $35).