Rapini, or rappi, seems to be bigger downstate than here in Upstate America. Pizza shops and Italian restaurants near my sister on Long Island almost always offer the bitter greens as a topping or stuffing in pizza. And most pasta houses offer some combination of sausage and rappi over pasta. Here in Syracuse, it’s a little tougher to come by. The Coppertop Tavern has recently offered the veggie as an ingredient in a few dishes, but otherwise it’s tough to find.
Rappi is not particularly tough to cook, but unlike spinach or escarole, there is a process. You have to blanch rappi to tenderize the stalks and leaves before sautéing them. Rappi is a bold, bitter green that is closer to a mustard or collard green than kale or spinach.
Cavatelli and rappi has been a family favorite since I was in elementary school. Personally, I hate trimming and cleaning it so buying Wegmans‘ chopped rappi is well worth the $3.99/6 oz. bribe (you can get a much larger bunch for $1.50 or $2). My quest for a quick Monday dinner brought me back to this:
- 6-8 oz. rappi, cleaned and trimmed
- 16 oz. frozen or fresh cavatelli
- 1 cup chicken stock, or 1/2 cup chicken stock and 1/2 cup dry white wine
- olive oil
- 1-2 garlic cloves, minced
- kosher salt (approx. 1/4 cup)
- grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
Bring a stock pot of water to boil. Add kosher salt and the rappi. Boil the greens 5-7 minutes, or until the stalks are tender. In the meantime, heat about 1 oz. of olive oil over high heat in a large skillet. When the oil shimmers, add the minced garlic.
When the rappi is done, use a large slotted spoon to transfer the rappi to your skillet (it will shrink significantly when boiling). Add your cavatelli and cook as directed (frozen: 5-7 minutes; fresh, 2-3 minutes). Pour the chicken stock or stock-wine mixture over the rappi and saute, bringing the liquid to a boil.
Drain your pasta and transfer for a large bowl. Dump the greens and liquid over the top and toss with grated cheese. Serve hot.
Note: If you want to use sausage in this recipe, it’s pretty easy. Take 8 oz. of bulk Italian sausage and brown it. Drain half of the grease from the pan and add the cooked rappi with 6 oz. chicken stock or a half-and-half blend of stock and white wine.