1/2 bunch rapa (or brocollini)
500 g orecchiette or other short pasta
120 ml extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
3-4 anchovy fillets (or 1-2 sardines, both optional)
1 red chilli, finely chopped or 2 tsp dried
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1-2 Tbsp capers
1 lemon to serve
grated parmesan to serve
Broccoli di rapa, or simply rapa. It seems like it has lots of names depending on where you are. It might be rapini. Or broccoli rabe. Or cime di rapa. Anyway, Farmer Vince at our Coburg market garden says to blanch the rapa for just a minute or two, long enough to reduce the bitterness, but not too long that you increase the bitterness. And aside from sautéing it in the following flavours, he also recommends making a frittata with it, which sounds like a great idea to me and just as easy. You could use this recipe but fill the fry pan with whisked eggs instead of pasta, and then finish it under the grill to set. But back to this classic Italian pasta combo – if you don’t find yourself with some of Vince’s rapa you could absolutely substitute broccoli shoots (and heads at any stage of flowering, if you’re growing your own).
Rapa, Garlic and Chilli Orecchiette
Pop on a large pot of salted water for the pasta, but use this first to blanch the rapa. It doesn’t need long, just a minute or so until the thicker stems start to soften and it’s lovely and green. Remove the rapa from the pot, bring it back to a boil and throw in the pasta.
Once your pasta is on, gently heat the olive oil in a fry pan and saute anchovies (or sardines) if using, then add sliced garlic and chilli. Keep the pan on a low heat so the oil stays healthy and the flavours have time to soften.
Drain the pasta (reserving just a little water in the bottom) and tip into the frypan with all those flavours. Add in your greens and warm that through with the heat and oily, bold flavours of the pan. Add a squeeze of lemon, parmesan and some vinegary capers if you like them, to really finish it off.
Coburg rapa and yummy simple pasta – certainly cheaper than a trip to Southern Italy. Eat it with gusto in the sun and you’ll be there in a heart beat. Thanks Vince.