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Monday, September 23, 2013

[Pasta with Rapini & Sausage] Pasta with a classic Italian combination (+ Tip for cooking pasta al dente)

I think a vegetable I hadn't had a chance to taste as a kid would be rapini (broccoli rabe). A few years ago, I encountered this delicious vegetable that has a slight bitter taste. The subtle bitterness of the rapini stimulates your taste buds. Even though I liked rapini (or broccoli rabe) immediately, I guess I wouldn't have liked it too much if I had tasted it as a kid. Let's say it has some "mature" taste that will attract more grown-ups than kids. 

One kid in my household, Remi, has a "quasi" grownup taste while the other kid likes childish food. :( In other words, Remi likes rapini very much and Pablo is not a fan of rapini, yet. But, still does he eat it even though he just swallows it, with grimace, instead of chewing or relishing, so far. 

But, it's okay. I think he will like this green vegetable, at the end, since he likes most vegetables. If you didn't try rapini, you should, as soon as possible. Rapini has many spiked leaves around clusters of green buds that resemble small broccoli heads. All the parts, i.e. leaves, buds, and stems, are edible. I am glad I got to know this tasty vegetable. I am curious of all different kinds of raw food, including vegetables. Hope to find more and more new vegetables down the road. :)

Any short pasta will be good for this recipe. I was pretty sure I still had a couple of boxes of orecchiette pasta. But, I must have used up. :( So, naturally, I chose penne to make rapini & sausage pasta. Penne is my favorite pasta. So, I tend to choose penne more often than any other pasta. You can use any short pasta of your choice. Meaty sausage and just a little bit bitter rapini go very well together. It's a classic Italian combination.

Here goes the recipe for pasta with rapini & sausage.
(adapted from Gambero Rosso)

1 bunch broccoli di rape
1/2 lb. sweet Italian sausage
5 tablespoons good olive oil
3 large cloves garlic crushed (2 teaspoons minced garlic)
1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
1 cup or more chicken broth
1 lb short pasta, such as penne or orecchiette
1-2 tablespoons unsalted butter (optional)
4 tablespoons feta or Pecorino Romano cheese, grated


1. Wash and dry the rapini. Remove any large tough leaves, leaving just tender leaves and buds(broccoli heads). Tear large leaves into 2-3 pieces.

2.  Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and add the crushed (or minced) garlic.

3. Peel the sausage, 

and crumble it while sauteing over medium-high heat in a tablespoon of olive oil. Potato masher does a great job. 

Continue sauteing for another 2 to 3 minutes, until the sausage is lightly browned. Taste, and season lightly with salt and pepper flakes.

4. Drain out the fat in the pan, and add a tablespoon of olive oil. Add rapini to the pan, tossing. 

It will be cooked within 1-2 minutes.

5. Stir in a tablespoon of the butter(optional), then the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Cook uncovered for several minutes more to reduce the liquid.

6.  Meanwhile, start cooking pasta in the boiling water. Cooking time for al dente depends on the pasta. Normally, I find, penne takes about 8 minutes to be cooked al dente. Cooking al dente means  to cook pasta or bean firm but not hard! 

There are two ways to cook pasta al dente. One is to taste it every minute or so, starting from 6-7 minutes after cooking. My preferred way is to cut pasta into half and see if pasta is mostly cooked with a small core uncooked.

7. Drain the pasta cooked. Turn the hot pasta into the sauce and toss gently to blend. 

8. Sprinkle on the fresh cheese, and toss to blend. 

9. Turn the pasta onto the plates and serve.

Delizioso~~ :)

Pasta con Salsiccia e Cime di Rapa


  1. Before reading this post I didn't even know a vegetable called rapini existed. If you had't explained, I would've thought it was baby broccoli. Just like every other recipes of yours, this too looks delicious.
    My recent experience of trying new vegetable was Goya, also known as bitter melon and as you can guess from its name, it was so bitter I couldn't even hold it in my mouth if it was uncooked. I made an Okinawa dish with it(goya champur) and surprisingly the bitter taste actually blended in well and actually improved the taste of the dish as a whole.
    Celeriac is another vegetable I've been meaning to taste, but i can't find it here in korea. I heard it's usually cooked as soup and stew and the only time I saw celeriac was at wholefoods in London. Have you ever tried cooking with celeriac?

    Thanks for yet another interesting recipe :)


    1. Hi Julia,
      yeah we call it rapini in Canada while Americans call it broccoli rabe. Thanks for your compliments. I appreciate it. It's a simple, but really tasty pasta.

      I thought Goya was a Chinese vegetable, wasn't it? I tried bitter melon a couple of times. It's really and extremely bitter, isn't it? But I am willing to try a few more times to see if I can like it.

      I see celeriac everywhere here. But, never tried before. Now, I got really curious about its taste. I'll find a good recipe and make some nice dish. Then, of course, I will post the recipe, for sure!
      Have a nice day! :)