Saturday, January 26, 2008

Penne with sausage and rapini

For those of you who can't appreciate the bitter, tart, astringent, acrid, and otherwise vile taste of rapini on their own, mixing them with pasta is a great way to get a dose of these healthy, leafy greens. Now maybe I'm being a little too harsh on rapini, but you would be to if your father had spent most of his life trying to shove them down your throat.

I boil the rapini in the same water I boil the pasta in to save time, and I like to think it adds some taste to the pasta. As for the sausage, I like to buy sausage meat out of its casing, which I buy at Inter-Marche R.D.P.(7472 Maurice-Duplessis) If you can't find sausage meat out of its casing, you can remove it yourself -use a pair of scissors to cut opened the sausage, then scrape out the meat. Using the meat this way gives the dish a different texture, as some of the meat caramelizes crispy while the larger nuggets stay juicy.

  • 1 onion-diced

  • 6 cloves garlic-left whole

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil (use the good stuff here ie.first cold pressed)

  • 1/4 cup white wine

  • 2 plum tomatoes-diced

  • 1 bunch of rapini, ends chopped off.

  • 1 pack of short pasta (500g) such as penne.

  • 2 cups of loose sausage meat-out of its casing.

  • 1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs.(optional)


Fill a large pot with salted water and bring to a boil. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Heat the garlic in the oil being careful not to burn it. The garlic should begin to gently simmer in the oil, this will give the oil a beautiful garlic bouquet. When the garlic begins to brown evenly remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and reserve. Raise the heat to mediun high and throw in the onion. Cook for about 8 minutes until translucent. Add the sausage meat and cook until meat cooks through- about 20 to 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, check your pot, when the water begins to boil, add the rapini. Boil the rapini for no more than 5 minutes. Scoop out the rapini with a handled strainer and let it drain-squeeze out as much water from the rapini as you can. Add the pasta to the boiling water.

When the sausage is cooked, add the wine and raise the heat to high until alcohol evaporates, about 5 minutes. Lower heat to medium and add the tomatoes and the reserved cooked garlic. Place cooked rapini on a cutting board, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and coarsely chop, don't cut the rapini too small. Add rapini to the pan. Scoop out the pasta 1 minute before recommended cooking time indicated on the package and add to the pan with all the rest of the ingredients. Heat well and incorporate everything together. If the pasta seems a bit dry, add some of the pasta water.(If you've dumped the water, use some chicken stock)

Empty the pan into a big beautiful pasta bowl. Keeping the heat on medium, add the breadcrumbs to the pan. This is an old italian technique. The breadcrumbs soak up any remaining oil and other goodies stuck to the pan. Cook the breadcrumbs until toasted.

To serve, scoop pasta into a bowl, top with the toasted breadcrumbs, parmiggiano cheese, and a drizzle of olive oil.

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