This recipe has everything I want in a good sandwich—toasted homemade bread, hearty protein, and broccoli rabe. That’s right—I declare roasted broccoli rabe florets as the new default vegetable for sandwiches, lettuce be damned. My friend Soleil Ho, restaurant critic for the San Francisco Chronicle, would likely agree—in her words, “I hate lettuce, but I really hate hot lettuce.” This recipe is inspired by bunny chow, a South African dish made by hollowing out a loaf of white bread and filling it with curry. Although the original version was vegetarian, it is more common to find bread stuffed with meaty curries these days. The first time I had bunny chow was at the now-closed South African restaurant Madiba in my old Brooklyn neighborhood. When I had it a second time, prepared by the People’s Kitchen Collective at the Museum of the African Diaspora’s first Diaspora Dinner, I was blown away.
The popular vegetarian version of bunny chow uses lima beans. I need a meatier and heartier bean for this dish, so I use corona beans—huge, thick-skinned beans with a creamy interior. They work even better than I could have imagined. If you can’t find them, you can use cannellini beans instead, but do yourself a favor and order a bag of Royal Corona beans from Rancho Gordo. If you don’t have time to make the buns, toasted vegan potato buns will work just fine. Lastly, while this is a sandwich, I imagine folks digging in with a fork and knife.
- In a medium cast-iron skillet, toast the carda¬mom pods over medium-low heat, shaking the pan occasionally to prevent burning, until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the pods to a small plate and set aside to cool. Once cooled, crack open the pods with your fingers and transfer the seeds within to a mortar or spice grinder (discard the pods). Add the remaining ingredients and grind into a fine powder. Transfer to a jar and seal tightly. Store at room temperature for up to 1 month.
- In a small skillet, combine the olive oil and garlic and heat over medium-low heat, stirring often to prevent the garlic from burning, until the garlic just starts to turn golden, about 3 minutes. Quickly scrape the contents of the skillet into a mortar or small bowl, add the parsley, and stir well to combine. Use immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
- Make the bread: In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, yeast, and salt. Pour in the warm water and the coconut oil. Starting with a wooden spoon and then using your hands, mix to form a shaggy dough. Transfer to a clean countertop and knead to form a soft, stretchy ball of dough, 5 to 7 minutes.
- With a towel, wipe the bowl clean, then lightly grease it with oil. Place the dough in the bowl, loosely cover with a clean kitchen towel, and set aside in a warm area until the dough doubles in size, about 1 hour.
- Lightly grease a clean work surface. Turn the dough out onto the surface and gently punch it down to deflate it. Divide the dough into six equal pieces and roll each into a taut ball.
- Lightly grease a baking sheet and space the balls of dough evenly across the pan. Gently flatten the tops of the dough, cover with a clean kitchen towel, and set aside until the buns have doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Bake the risen buns until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Brush the buns with coconut oil and transfer to a wire rack to cool. Increase the oven temperature to 425°F.
- Make the broccoli rabe: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Fill a medium saucepan a little over halfway with water and bring it to a boil over high heat. Add the salt and the broccoli rabe and simmer for 1 minute. Quickly remove from the heat and drain. Dump the broccoli rabe onto a clean kitchen towel and gently squeeze to absorb some of the moisture. Transfer the broccoli rabe to a large bowl, add the olive oil and a pinch of salt, and toss. Transfer to the pre¬pared baking sheet and roast until the florets are tender and the leaves are starting to crisp slightly at the edges, about 20 minutes.
- Make the beans: Drain and rinse the beans. Place them in a medium saucepan and add enough water to cover by 4 inches. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove the lid, decrease the heat to medium-low, and simmer until the beans are softening but still slightly firm, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Stir in the salt and simmer for 10 minutes more.
- Remove from the heat and let the beans cool in their liquid for 1 hour.
- Drain the beans, reserving the cooking liquid, and set both aside.
- While the beans are cooling, in a large skillet over medium heat, warm the olive oil until shimmering. Add the onion, season with salt, and sauté until starting to brown, 7 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the berbere spice blend and tomato paste and stir to thoroughly combine. Add the tomato puree, potatoes, beans, and 2 cups of the reserved bean cooking liquid. Simmer, partially covered, until the potatoes are fork-tender, about 45 minutes.
- To serve, slice the buns in half horizontally, then toast them to your liking. Place the bottom half of each bun on an individual plate. Pile a handful (about 1/4 cup) of the broccoli rabe on the bun, spoon a heaping serving of the beans on top of the broccoli rabe, and garnish with persillade. Sprinkle with flaky salt and white pepper, then serve.
Reprinted with permission from Vegetable Kingdom: The Abundant World of Vegan Recipes by the Bryant Terry, copyright © 2020. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House. Photography copyright: Ed Anderson © 2020