Friday, February 20, 2009

Rapini...just like cooking: An Acquired Taste

I don't know if anyone even noticed, but the introduction to my last post was written in past tense. You see, my Dad is newly retired and has decided that he too would like to take on the challenge of cooking! So, for a nice family dinner we decided to make an Italian pasta dish. The main ingredient was rapini. Although rapini is a good source of Vitamins A, C, and K, it has a very distinct taste that may not sit well with all pasta connoisseurs.

Pasta with Rapini

1/2 cup olive oil
4 large cloves garlic, minced
2 pounds rapini (broccoli rabe)
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 pound medium-sized pasta
Crushed red pepper (optional)
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese


We strayed from these directions on the website because after talking to may aunt, we learned of the way my grandmother used to make this dish. First, we got out a big pot and filled it to about 3/4 with water and added in the cut rapini (you know you have enough water if the rapini is submerged completely). Then we placed the pot on medium heat to boil. As the pot was boiling, in a separate pan we heated the 1/2 cup of olive oil over medium heat. Instead of mincing the garlic, I remembered the garlic press my mom always uses for her pasta sauce and so we used that to save us some time. In the heated pan, along with olive oil, we combined the pressed garlic, salt and pepper, and balsamic vinegar. That mixture, after turning down the heat, just sat on the stove to simmer. The water came to a boil and so, in went a box of penne. So now, the pasta was cooking in the same pot as the rapini. If you've ever cooked spaghetti before, you may know the trick-if you throw a sting of spaghetti and it sticks to the cupboard, it's ready- however, this trick does not work with penne (I learned by continuously throwing a piece of penne, that would not stick, at the cupboard as my dad fervently looked on). So instead, I just ate piece of penne and decided it was cooked. As we strained the cooked penne and rapini, we saved a little water to be used for the sauce. In a large bowl, we put the penne and rapini, and covered the pasta with our olive oil mixture. Not everyone in our house enjoys spicy food, so we served the chili peppers as well as the Parmesan cheese on the side!

Every new dish I cook seems to come easier and easier. I'm now looking forward to cooking more complex recipes with a little less help from others!


  1. Oho! Sounds yummy!

    I can just imagine tossing a piece of penne repeatedly at a cupboard, haha! :P

    Sounds like this cooking adventure is turning you into a real iron chef. I'm also looking forward to your more complex recipes, if only to drool at the pictures. :D

  2. Actually, cooking is getting easier and easier everytime. Not only can I actually follow the directions, I often find myself putting together some pretty delicious snacks!

    No worries, I have already mentally prepared myself to take on some more complex recipes...I'm glad you're enjoying this!!