Rapini, also known as brocoletti di rape and broccoli rape, happens to be one of my all time favorite vegetables. It is also becoming more well known on "this side of the pond". Growing up in an Italian home, this vegetable was a staple, even when not in season. My parents would blanche large batches; and then would freeze them for later use as a side dish, mixed with fagioli (roman beans) , or tossed into pasta. Another use for this basic recipe is to add it as a topping for a gourmet pizza. Today, it is available all year round even though it's peak season is fall to spring. When buying rapini, chose bunches with firm green flower buds and avoid those with yellow flowering ones. Blanching the rapini will take away most of the bitter taste. To retain it's vibrant green color simply shock the rapini in ice cold water after blanching.
Mom' Basic Rapini and Garlic Recipe
1 bunch rapini
4 tablespoons extra virgin oil
3-4 cloves garlic peeled and sliced
1/4 teaspoon dried red chili flakes or more for extra heat
salt to taste
Begin by washing the rapini and cutting about an 1 inch off the stem. To allow for more even cooking with a knife, split about 1-2 inches down the center of the lower part of the rapini stem. This allows for more even cooking. Wash the rapini under cold water and drain. Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. I add salt to the boiling water as you would do, when cooking pasta. Drop the rapini in the salted boiling water and cook for about 1 minutes until "a la dente".
Strain the rapini and place it immediately in a large bowl filled with ice water. Strain and remove the excess water by wringing the rapini with your hands or paper towel. Cut into 3 pieces and set aside. In a frying pan heat the oil and add the garlic slices and red chili flakes. Saute the garlic until a golden colour. Add the rapini as shown in the photo, away from the sizzling oil as it tends to splatter, and continue cooking on medium heat to infuse the flavours, for about 1 to 2 minutes. Do not over cook. Season with salt. Serve as a side dish or toss into a hot pasta and tomato sauce dish. So from my family to yours, buon appetito!