One of my favorite perks of fresh produce is the color.
I see meat as Kansas and vegetables/fruit as Oz.
For this ingredient introduction I spent a little time in the Emerald City.
It kind of looks like a bouquet a broccoli bride might carry down the aisle. It’s leafy, with little clusters that resemble broccoli crowns.
The flavor is very pungent, and almost bitter. It kinda resembles the nuttiness of creamed spinach.
It’s usually served as a side dish. Chop it, and sauté it in oil and garlic, or blanche it, then sauté it. But I think it has more to offer. Plus, my partner in cuisine crime doesn’t like the flavor of cooked spinach, so I tried to lessen the blow.
I made grilled chicken pasta with fire roasted tomatoes and rapini.
Here’s what you need:
1 bunch of rapini, washed and dried
2 cans of fire roasted tomatoes
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp dried oregano, ground in your hands
1 tsp sugar
I box of whole grain spaghetti
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Optional garnish: extra virgin olive oil & mozzarella cheese
For the chicken, I rubbed olive oil on halved boneless skinless chicken breasts, then sprinkled each side with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Grill until charred on both sides and cooked through, about 15 minutes. You can also use shredded rotisserie chicken, but I find the crustiness of the charred chicken, stands out from the creamy pasta.
Cut 1/2 inch off the bottom of the rapini stems. Then, chop the rapini into big chunks.
Once the garlic fragrant, toss in the rapini pieces and stir, making sure you coat the leaves with the garlic oil. Swirl in some more olive oil, sprinkle in salt and pepper, and stir. Lower the heat to medium.
First of all, I adore the colors of this dish. The red and green make me think of Italy.
There’s a light heat from the pepper flakes. The sauce is holding onto the noodles for dear life. The tomatoes are chunky and hearty. The rapini is tender and subtle. You get a slight bitterness, but the creaminess of the pasta plays well with it.
My spinach-hating partner in cuisine crime loved the dish, but said the rapini was his least favorite part of it. I still view that as a success.
If you don’t like spinach, I do think you’ll be able to appreciate this. If you like collard greens, you’ll really like it.
Rapini is loaded with vitamins K, A, and C. It gives you plenty of minerals and a bit of protein.
I think sautéed rapini would be perfect in an omelette or on a sandwich with roasted vegetables or eggplant.
Definitely try the pasta recipe. I’m fighting the urge to dig into the leftovers sitting in the fridge. They’re reserved for tomorrow’s lunch.
Tip: Don’t confuse rapini/broccoli rabe with broccolini. The latter is a registered trademark name for baby broccoli. It’s not young broccoli. It’s actually a cross between broccoli and Chinese kale. You’ll find it to be sweet, and tender. Try grilling or roasting it. Or cook it like you would regular broccoli. Yum!