Rapini is at its seasonal peak here in California, although it’s available much of the year. The food gurus at Saveur magazine like using this pleasantly bitter vegetable – also called broccoli rabe – in a pasta combined with goat cheese, lemon zest, garlic, and red pepper flakes. (Click here for the recipe.) “Bright lemon zest, garlic and red chili flakes play off the bitterness of the rapini and reveal its sweetness,” Saveur editor James Oseland writes in the fabulous cookbook Saveur: The New Comfort Food (Chronicle Books, 2011), where this recipe appears.
“Soft tangy goat cheese,” he adds, “brings together the more piquant ingredients with the al dente pasta” – in this case ear-shaped orecchiette.
Oseland calls rapini “one of the most assertively flavored vegetables we’ve had the pleasure of tasting.” It’s actually a member of the cabbage family. Oseland notes rapini’s origins are in Central Asia, where cooks stir-fry the vegetable. But Italian cooks also have come to embrace rapini. Orecchiette with broccoli rabe, for example, is a signature dish from Italy’s Puglia region, in the south.
In this dish, garlic is cooked in extra virgin olive oil until golden. The chili flakes and cooked rapini are added and tossed. The rapini is then tossed with the orecchiette and lemon zest and cooked over high heat. Each serving gets a dollop of goat cheese. (Click here to see the recipe.)
Personally, we’d also give each dollop a finishing drizzle of our Miller’s Blend extra virgin olive oil. It’s a combination we’ve tried … and is fantastic.
Your friends at California Olive Ranch