Cime di rapa or rapini has been a favorite Italian vegetable because of the slight bitterness it imparts. Papa used to forage for wild mustard greens in and around San Francisco, as many Italians still do in Italy today and mustard has a very similar taste. They both remind me of Papa, so this pasta is my take on a classic Pugliese combination of bitter greens, pasta with an olive oil, garlic, anchovy “condimento”.
|1 bunch rapini (broccoli rabe) |
3T extra virgin olive oil
3 large or 6 small anchovy filets
1T green olive tapenade
3 large cloves garlic
1T Tutto Calabria Hot Spread Sauce
1 package pappardelle
Fill the pasta pot with water and heat it on high. Wash and coarsely chop the rapini, then set aside. Place the olive oil in a large pan, big enough to hold the pasta and vegetable. Heat on medium and mince the garlic.
When the oil is heated, add the anchovy, hot pepper spread and olive tapenade. Stir and mash the anchovies into the mix until they disintegrate completely. Since the pasta water is boiling by now, add the pasta into the water and stir so it doesn’t stick together. Back to the sauce; add the garlic and saute for a few minutes. Set this aside off the heat, and put your attention on the pasta.
As soon as the pasta is al dente (flexible but chewy), add the rapini and submerge into the pasta water to cook. You need it to wilt and still be bright green. Adding the rapini with cool down the water, so your pasta will not overcook, but the vegetable will have enough heat to cook thoroughly. Drain the pasta and rapini and add to the sauce pan. Place over a medium heat and mix together. Adding the heat serves the purpose of eliminating any residual water. Now plate and add the freshly grated Romano.