Recipe: Pasta Con Rabe (Rapini)

Contributing Editor Tony Traficante dishes on Rabe and shares a simple (yet delicious) recipe.

This article is written by Contributing Editor Tony Traficante.

Pasta ‘con’ Rabe or Rapini

Pasta (a staple of life for Italians and thousands more) is a simple yet extraordinary food item, prepared hundreds of ways: Normally, with a tomato sauce… but also with pesto, marinara, or ‘aglio e olio,’ and united with ‘fagioli,’ anchovies, a vegetable, clams or a hundred other combinations.

And here is one other way to prepare it: “Cavatelli e rapini.’

Broccoli rabe (a.k.a. raab, rapini, and several other names) is a tasty, leafy vegetable. With a slightly sharp, tangy taste, rabe has small florets — or broccoli-like buds. It is not, however, part of the broccoli family — but rather of the turnips.

If you plan to try pasta with rabe, start with a fresh bunch of rabe. You can tell if the leaves are bright green, crisp, standing upright, not wilted or yellowing. It is a healthy combination, low in calories and fat, and simple to prepare…

Gather these ingredients

  • 1 or 2 bunches of fresh Broccoli Rabe/Rapini
  • 1 lb of Cavatelli or other pasta preference
  • Salt and pepper (black, red or both) to taste
  • A couple of garlic cloves
  • Good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • Your favorite grated cheese
  • And, of course, water to boil the pasta! 

‘Cominciamo’ –  Let’s Do it!

  • As the pasta boils, wash and coarsely chop the rapini. Trim off some of the lower stem parts; they are usually tough. Then cut the remainder of the stalks into small pieces.
  • Bring a small amount of water, lightly salted (optional) to a boil. Add the broccoli rabe and cook about 2 to 3 minutes (some cooks will skip this step and do it all in the sauté pan).
  • Next, sauté the rabe in a skillet with olive oil and as much garlic as you like, for about 10 or so minutes; test a piece of stem for tenderness. Add whatever condiments you like (i.e., salt, pepper).
  • Once the pasta is ready and drained, dump it in a favorite serving bowl, stir in the seasoned broccoli rabe and ‘dig in.’ You can add more seasoning and grated cheese at the table!

Serves about 6 people (without second helpings).

A wise man once said: “Esse nu fesso chi dice male di macaroni.”

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