In honour of those of us who have plans to eat a little healthier in 2009, this recipe officially launches RAPINI WEEK at the National Nosh.
Rapini (aka Broccoli Rabe) is one of my favourite wintertime vegetables.
Packed with vitamins A and C and a good source of calcium to boot; though its inherent bitterness may be off-putting to some (its kissing cousins to the cabbage and turnip), this leafy green is versatile enough to play well with others.
Here's a tasty pasta recipe to ease you in.
SPICY TURKEY SAUSAGE, RAPINI, PEAS AND PENNE WITH GARLICKY CRUMBS
1/2 lb (about 2 cups) dried penne
2 links hot Italian turkey sausage
1/2 bunch rapini; tough stems discarded, rapini washed, dried and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 Tbsp pesto (tip: I keep a small Tupperware of the stuff in the freezer and scoop as needed)
1/4 cup dry white wine (or a splash of Vermouth if you don't want to open a bottle)
pinch of sugar
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp course salt
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
fresh cracked pepper
1. In a pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta until al dente. While pasta is cooking, squeeze sausage from casings into a large heavy skillet and saute over moderate heat, stirring to break up the chunks, until no longer pink and slightly caramelized (about 5 minutes.) Add rapini, saute with sausage for a few minutes more, then add frozen peas, pesto, wine and pinch of sugar. Cook for a couple minutes more.
2. In a small frying pan heat the olive oil. Add garlic through a garlic press, or rasped, or finely minced. Add salt and breadcrumbs. Cook together with garlic oil until toasty brown.
3. Drain pasta and return it to the pot. Add rapini and sausage mixture, heat through and dish it out. Sprinkle each serving with a generous amount of the toasted breadcrumbs and a few grinds of black pepper.