Rapini, a.k.a. broccoli rabe, is a wonderful leafy green that looks like broccoli and spinach had a baby. You most commonly see rapini in the classic Italian dish, Orecchiette with Rapini (I used rigatoni here because I was fresh out of Orecchiette). Though there are many different versions of this Italian staple, I like to add goat cheese to mine for some added richness and to help counteract some of the heat from the red pepper flakes.
This meal is also one of those rare recipes that can be thrown together in 30 minutes or less and is basically your entire meal in one bowl (Huzzah!). I even make this when my husband is out of town, which is HUGE. When I’m all alone in the house, I usually eat like a college freshman because I can’t be bothered to make anything resembling an actual meal (peanut butter crackers, anyone?). This dish, however, is so easy you can actually make this on weekday after work and not want to stab yourself with a wooden spoon. You’re welcome, gentle reader. Now get cooking!
- 4 oz. Chevre Goat Cheese
- 2-3 bunches of Rapini (also known as Broccoli Rabe), Stems removed
- 1 Tablespoon, finely chopped garlic (or crush it in a garlic press if you’re tired)
- ½ teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
- ¼ cup Extra Virgin olive oil
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 1 lb. Orecchiette Pasta, cooked per instructions (you can also use the pasta of your choice like rigatoni or even tortellini)
- 2 tablespoons of reserved pasta water
- Kosher Salt
- 4 sausages, roasted at 425 degrees for about 10 minutes
- Pot of salted, boiling water
- Large Bowl of ice water
- Sautee Pan
- Kitchen towel that’s not fuzzy (like a tea towel or flour sack towel).
- 4 Pasta bowls
1) Heat your pot of water on Med-High heat to get it boiling. Once boiling, add 1 Tablespoon Kosher salt.
2) While you wait for you water to come to a boil, tear the tough stems off the rapini, rinse the leaves, and dry using a dish towel or paper towel. Toss the stems. (I find the stems a little tough and hard to digest. If you have a steelier stomach than me, keep the stems on and cook away).
3) Place the rapini in the boiling water. If you have taken off the stems, the rapini will become tender in about 2 minutes. If you left the stalks, then the rapini will need to boil for 3-4 minutes until the stalks are tender.
4) When the rapini is cooked through but not boiled to death, remove it from the boiling water using tongs (you want to save the boiling water for the pasta) and place the rapini in the ice bath.
5) When the rapini has cooled down, remove it from the ice bath with the tongs and drain it in colander. I also squeeze it to make sure I get all of the excess moisture from the rapini. You can also dry it using a kitchen towel. When the rapini is thoroughly drained and dried, roughly chop it and set aside.
6) With your pot of water still boiling (because you very smarty did not pour out your boiling water from blanching the rapini), add the pasta and cook it per the instructions on the bag (usually about 9-10 minutes).
7) About halfway through the pasta cooking, begin making the “sauce.” Carefully get two tablespoons of pasta water from the cooking pasta (I use a coffee mug to grab the water and then measure it out as needed). Heat the olive oil and red pepper flakes in the Sautee pan over low medium heat for about 1 minute.
8) Add your rapini, lemon zest, and garlic stirring constantly for about 1 minute to make sure the garlic does not burn. Add 2 tablespoons of reserved pasta water to the rapini, turn the stove heat to low, and place a lid on the Sautee pan (or in a bind, a use a metal sheet pan for baking. Just MacGyver it). At this point, you are just trying to reheat your rapini. This takes about 3-5 minutes.
9)When your pasta is done, add it to your sauté pan and stir until coated with rapini/olive oil mixture.
10) This step needs to happen relatively quickly because the pasta/rapini need to be nice and hot in order to melt the goat cheese. Divide the pasta and rapini between the 4 bowls. Divide you log of goat cheese into 4 even pieces and distribute among the bowls. Top the pasta with sausage.
11) When you have your assembled bowl of hot pasta mix everything together. The goat cheese will melt and coat the pasta, sausage, and rapini making a creamy, garlicky sauce of goodness.
A few Cookies and Salt Tips:
- This is already a pretty quick meal, but if you want to make it even quicker, you can go ahead and blanche the rapini ahead of time and keep it in the fridge a day or two to have on hand for a last minute meal.
- This can easily be turned into a vegetarian meal by simply omitting the sausage. For a gluten-free diet-y version you could even omit the pasta and just serve the sautéed greens and sausage.
- If you do not have access to rapini, you can use fresh spinach (don’t blanche it, just sauté it), broccollini, or another good cooking green like Swiss chard (I’d blanche the chard and the broccolini).