I got a back of rape leave (canola plant leaves) in my CSA this week. What should I do with them?

I haven't been able to find much information about cooking with them online. Have you ever cooked them? Any ideas on how to use them? I also got some of the little buds.Thanks for your help!

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Miguelito
Miguelito April 23, 2014

Try a few things, play around with it. Try toasting some and see what flavor evolves. Try sautéing some I'm butter, marinate, crush up with a pestsl. Whenever I get new ingredients or free samples I also experiment. It's best way to
Develop your own culinary profile and learn first hand what works with what. Sorry if that isn't much help

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trampledbygeese
trampledbygeese April 23, 2014

First off, it's important to note that Rape and CANOLA are similar but not the same. For the purpose of this post, I'm stressing the difference and oversimplifying things as a way to get people thinking about the controversy.

Personally I would advise against eating Rape leaves, or any part of the Rape plant. Rape was a very popular crop back in the age of Steam because the oil worked as a wonderful lubricant in the engines. Then when the car came along and steam went out of fashion there was a need to find new uses for rape... so they started feeding it to animals. Sources from that time showed that it caused a lot of fast growing cancer in animals and feeding it to livestock was banned in several places.

However, much of Canada is great for growing rapeseed. So some smart people got together and created a kind of rape that was low in the acid that was thought to cause cancer in livestock. This rape descendant is called CANOLA - CANadian Oil Low Acid (or some acronym like that).

CANOLA being one of the larger and of huge financial important crops in Canada has a lot of power behind it and a lot of power in the press to paint it in a positive light. Because of this, the research into the health of CANOLA on animals and humans is controversial. There is a lot of evidence saying it's good for people and that it's bad for people, and the results of each study correlates to who is funding the study. I would love to see some truly independent research, but I haven't found it yet.

In my personal opinion (and I stress this is my personal opinion) I'm not a huge fan of CANOLA. I'll eat it, but if there is an alternative, I'll spend an extra dollar and eat non-CANOLA instead. Why I feel this way is that science is beginning to show (what conventional wisdom knew) that it's not one factor (like a single acid in a plant) that causes cancer or other health issues. Quite often it's ratios between things, or maybe the method of processing, or maybe it's something else in the plant that combines with other things in the diet (theoretical example, rape plus corn were often combined in livestock diets). Getting rid of one specific acid may not have solved the problem that caused cancer, maybe it was just the factor that increased the speed of it developing. As is the case with many of the newer foods in our diet, we only have a few generations of experience as to how it interacts with our bodies.

But like I said, this last bit is my opinion and there is a lack of consistency in the research to say yah or neigh to my concerns. Hopefully this served to alert you to the controversy and get you reading and deciding for yourselves if you like eating CANOLA or not.

If I were to eat these, I would probably blanch them then add them to stir fry or pasta dish. Or maybe blanch them, then fry them in butter with garlic...mmm garlic.

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CarlaCooks
CarlaCooks April 23, 2014

Wow, trampledbygeese, I had no idea there was a difference! I live in Denmark, and the Danish word for what I got is calls Raps, which (according to my Danish-English culinary dictionary) is rape. However, I don't think my CSA is trying to kill me :) I've read that outside of Northern Europe, canola is called rapeseed (something about the name being changed in N. America in the 70s due to the sexual assault connotation of the name), so perhaps what I had in my fridge is merely European canola? I think I will blanch them and add to a stir-fry tonight.

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trampledbygeese
trampledbygeese April 23, 2014

I love the name change myth. It's actually one of my favourites. It's a great example of public re-education. They didn't want to associate rape with poor health as that association might transfer to CANOLA. Or so my interpretation of what I read is.

I know certain kinds of rape have been used by humans for a long time now, but which kinds, and used how? There isn't much documentation pre 1800s. The kinds used in the 19th through 20th Century are ones that do well in a monoculture setting and these are the ones that are thought to have caused harm. But they are probably different than the ones used historically. My feeling is that there isn't enough reliable data available, but that eating small quantities probably won't cause harm. Also it could be that rape refers to a larger category of crops in Europe than it does in North America.

trampledbygeese
trampledbygeese April 23, 2014

PS, let us know how it tastes.

cookbookchick
cookbookchick April 23, 2014

Are you sure that what you got isn't RAPINI, also called broccoli rabe among other names?

CarlaCooks
CarlaCooks April 23, 2014

Sorry, meant to write 'outside of North America'.

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Pegeen
Pegeen April 23, 2014

trampledbygeese, I don't have an opinion but wanted to say thanks for taking the time to share such comprehensive information.

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CarlaCooks
CarlaCooks April 24, 2014

Cookbookchick, I think you're right! I looked up an image of rapini and it looks exactly like what I have! Odd that my dictionary didn't translate it as such (and the dictionary did say rape, not rabe). I added the rapini to a stir fry after first blanching it for a few minutes in salted water.

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cookbookchick
cookbookchick April 24, 2014

Aha! One of my favorite vegetables! My family especially love it in a dish I make with sausage and orecchiette. And what you did is exactly what I do -- a quickish blanch in salted water before I cook with it. I sometimes freeze it after blanching as I like having it on hand and ready to use. Enjoy!

trampledbygeese
trampledbygeese April 24, 2014

Oh, I love rapini! So much yummier. I'm just sad I didn't grow any over winter this year.

Maedl
Maedl April 24, 2014

I suspected that you might have rapini! In my neck of the woods--Garmisch-Partenkirchen--it is called Rappa and none of the locals know what it is--or want to eat it. When I first started looking for it, the shopkeepers tried to give me grappa. I have to go to the Turkish or Greek green grocers to find it and when I emerge with a bunch in hand, I feel quite triumphant.

There are lots of Italian recipes, particularly from Puglia. Here is my favorite way to prepare rapini: saute onions, pepperocini, and garlic in olive oil along with diced bacon or some other tasty pork, add the rapini, which has been washed and chopped, then let cook until the rapini is tender. If you don't want to use pork, anchovies are a good substitute. This stands alone as a vegetable, or you can serve over farro, polenta, or pasta. Open a good Negroamaro, Primitivo or Nero d'Avola to accompany.

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Rh Bustos
Rh Bustos March 25, 2017

Rape or rapeseed plant is usually a wild mustard. So cook it like any mustard. The Koreans will blanch it in salted water, drain it, squeeze excess water and season it with sesame oil and chopped garlic. It's sometimes mild tasting, but sometimes has that kick of spiciness akin to horseradish (mild though). I've thrown it in soups (ramen). Usually it is blanched, drained, thrown in with fresh tomatoes, green onions and seasoned with fish sauce. Eaten with steaming rice.

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