Italian food is love in every bite, comprised of fresh ingredients created into simplistic delicious dishes.
The tastiest Italian meals are not fussy or fancy. They are created with passion while sipping a glass of wine in a kitchen filled with the acoustics of Nona’s wooden spoon, pot-stirring, and music.
As with most of the Italian recipes I post, the following recipe (Rappini con Pasta) is another forgiving one where you can either follow the recipe exactly or feel free to adjust it to suit your taste buds.
This year I added a new vegetable to grow in my garden–Rapini (also known as Broccoli Rabe), and grow it did. I was excited to pick the first harvest and treated myself to one of my childhood comfort dishes: RAPINI CON PASTA.
Rapini is a versatile green and can be sautéed, steamed, or baked and it will take whatever you throw at it, and shine every time.
It has a mild and distinctive bitterness which pairs well with mild or hot spices. If the bitterness (which I happen to love) is not in your taste bud wheelhouse you can tone it down by simply drizzling the green with freshly squeezed lemon juice. This eliminates all bitterness and makes the rapini sweeter.
The whole plant can be eaten; the leaves, stocks, and flowers.
Rapini con Pasta
1/4 cup Extra-Virgin Olive Oil (more as needed)
1/2 TBSP unsalted butter
6 cloves roasted garlic (if using raw garlic, slice them and use 4 cloves)
1.5 to 2 lbs. Rapini, trimmed and washed
1 lb. Linguini or Spaghetti (fresh or dry, your choice)
2 tsp. grated lemon rind
Freshly grated Romano cheese (you can also use Parmesan)
Salt to taste
1/4 tsp. Red Pepper Flakes, or to taste
Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and add salt.
Heat up a large skillet over medium-low heat, and add olive oil, then add the garlic and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, then remove from heat and set skillet aside.
Add rapini to boiling water and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, using a slotted spoon, remove the rapini and put it in a colander and rinse with cold water right away, drain well and chop into bite size pieces.
Return pot of water (that the rapini was cooked in) back to the stove on high heat and bring to a boil, and add the pasta. Cook pasta according to package directions, less 2 minutes.
While pasta is cooking, add a bit more oil to the skillet and turn heat on medium-low.
Add rapini and toss well to coat it with garlic and oil, add the lemon rinds, and add salt a little at time, and sprinkle with red pepper flakes, tasting to adjust the seasoning, keep the skillet on low heat,
Once pasta is cooked, drain it then toss into the skillet.
Add butter to the hot pasta, and toss pasta and rapini together, letting it all cook for about 2 minutes.
Remove from heat and serve with freshly grated Romano (or Parmesan or both if you’d like).
This dish also pairs extremely well with Italian sausage.
Another flavour bomb thriving in my garden–Basil.
For my quick and easy basil recipe, please click here.