Rapini suffers from an identity crisis. It’s also called broccoli rabe, cima di rapa, broccoletti di rape, and several other less formal names. What’s more, rapini is more closely related to turnips than broccoli. Identity crisis aside, cooks — particularly in Italy — prize rapini for its pleasantly bitter taste.
The vegetable currently is at its seasonal peak. We learned all this information from a great book we acquired recently: The San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market Cookbook (Chronicle Books, 2006). It’s loaded with interesting facts and information about produce. It also features 130 seasonal recipes, including one for rapini tossed with pasta. (Click here for the recipe.)
This flavorful recipe comes from Julia Wiley, one of the owners of Mariquita Farm. It’s a small family farm located south of the California town of Santa Cruz. The pasta dish is how Wiley “most often cooks the intensely flavored rapini grown on the farm.” She prefers to use penne or spaghettini for the pasta.
The recipe is incredibly simple. Cook the rapini in boiling, salted water for a few minutes. While the pasta cooks, sauté one or two cloves of garlic in extra virgin olive oil. After a couple of minutes add the rapini and season it with red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Top with some freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, if you like. That’s it!
Claude S. Weiller
Vice President of Sales & Marketing
California Olive Ranch