Rapini, more commonly known as broccoli rabe in the United States, is a green leafy vegetable popular in central and southern Italian regions. Rapini are typically sautéed with garlic, peperoncino, salt and pepper. Chopped pancetta or guanciale can also be added to the sauté for added richness and flavor. Broccoli rabe is actually not related to broccoli at all; and is more closely related to the turnip and turnip greens. It has an earthy, slightly bitter taste that softens as it cooks. Both the leaves and the broccoli-like buds are edible.
Rapini is sometime served as part of an antipasto or more commonly as a contorno, a side dish, to a hearty meat or pasta dish. Rapini can also be found as an integral ingredient to many pasta dishes, for example Orecchiette With Broccoli Rabe And Italian Sausage a recipe for which can be found in Così Italiano.
One of my favorite ways to serve rapini is simply with grilled sausage as a side to a meatless pasta dish, for example Spaghetti Marinara or Fettuccine Alfredo. I prefer to use Italian pork sausage and my wife prefers Italian seasoned chicken sausage, so feel free to use what ever type of sausage you prefer, it will always be delicious. Give it a try and let me know what you think.
- 8 Italian sausages, sweet or hot
- 2 bunches broccoli rabe ends trimmed then cut crosswise into 4-inch lengths
- ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 4-6 garlic cloves, or more to taste, thinly sliced
- 1 or 2 whole peperoncini, finely chopped; or 1 tsp. crushed red pepper, or more to taste
- Salt and ground pepper
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
- Add broccoli rabe to the boiling water and cook until water returns to a boil plus 2 or 3 minutes.
- Reserve 1 cup of water then drain the broccoli rabe in a large colander.
- In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat then add garlic and fry until the garlic just begins to turn golden. Add the peperoncini or crushed red pepper flakes and sauté for a few seconds the add the broccoli rabe and toss to combine.
- Cook for a minute, then add the reserved water and tightly cover the skillet allowing the broccoli rabe to steam for 2 minutes.
- Remove the cover and sauté until all the liquid is absorbed. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Meanwhile, grill the Italian sausage using your preferred method.
- Serve the rapini and sausage together as an appetizer or as a side dish to your favorite pasta.
Image: Salsicce con friarielli is used under license from Adobe Stock: © Vincenzo De Bernardo – stock.adobe.com