Sounds fancy, right?
I like to think so.
I first noticed it in Italy where it was a staple on most dinner menus, although I never got around to trying it because bufala mozzarella, cacio e pepe and pesto genovese were on those menus as well.
(For real, a girl can only fall in love with so much.)
What I discovered did not disappoint. Imagine if broccoli and asparagus had a distant cousin from Milan who was also a freakishly healthy supermodel. Ciao, sono Rapini. She's slender, sophisticated, and way more than just a pretty plant. For starters rapini, like broccoli, cabbage and Brussels sprouts, contains a powerful phytochemical called indole-3-carbonol. It's been shown to disrupt the growth and proliferation of human cancer cells in vivo (in other words, makes the bad guys self-destruct). Rapini also has high levels of folate and vitamin C. Those help reduce homocysteine in the blood which in turn lowers your risk of heart disease. It's also high in soluble fiber, anti-inflammatory MSM, and bone-building vitamin K.
Sounds healthy, right?
Yes, I do agree.
Making rapini is similar to making sauteed spinach. You can't really mess it up and it takes on the flavor of whatever sauce you mix it in. It does have a slightly earthy and robust bitterness to it, but I found that was a great compliment to the spice of red pepper. I used this recipe as a guide, leaving out the pine nuts and raisins and introducing my own macadamia nut Parmesan to keep it vegan. In all, the Signore and I were pleasantly surprised by the dish and enjoyed it over some cooked quinoa, paired with a glass of wine.
Let's be honest though, I'm always "pleasantly surprised" whenever I manage to satisfy him with a completely meatless meal.
Spicy Garlic Rapini
*4 bunches rapini (aka broccoli rabe or broccoletti) with stems trimmed to your liking
*1/4 cup olive oil
*3 cloves garlic, chopped
*1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (I used a whole teaspoon)
*Himalayan salt, to taste
1. Add rapini to large stock pot of boiling water. Let boil for one minute.
2. Transfer rapini to large bowl of ice water to halt cooking, saving 1/3 cup of cooking water. Strain and set aside.
3. Over medium high heat warm the olive oil, red pepper and garlic until garlic turns golden. Reduce heat to medium low, add the rapini and cooking water (if needed).
4. Saute until stems tenderize, approximately 5-6 minutes.
5. Serve with cooked quinoa, brown rice or pasta and healthy sprinkle of macadamia cheese.
Macadamia Nut Parmesan
*5-6 large, raw macadamia nuts
*Himalayan salt, to taste
1. Grate nuts over small bowl.
2. Add yeast and salt to taste.