Monday dinner: Orecchiette with rappi and goat cheese

I don’t subscribe to theme nights when it comes to dinner. Grocery shopping is done for the week, usually without any particular plan for which meal on which night. This week, I bought whole wheat spaghetti to have with the rest of the bolognese sauce in my fridge, chicken breasts for something I haven’t thought of yet, and orrechiette, rappi and goat cheese for another meal (Wednesday I have to work late, so that means leftover lasagna; on Friday, the kitchen is closed).

I picked up this recipe on a friend’s Pinterest wall and saw that the original poster said it would be great for “Meatless Monday.” I suppose this is a good way to ensure that you eat more veggies and to get the kids thinking that vegetables are more than just the enemy, but themes seem wrought with disappointment and extra effort. Instead of designing theme nights, spend that extra effort on the meal. Here’s the theme for tomorrow night at the Paventi house: Jared is cooking.

There. We have a theme night.

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I’ve been watching a lot of NCAA basketball on television, so pardon the upcoming references. This dish has a lot of upside. Good flavor balance between the acid of the lemon, bitterness of the rappi and creamy goat cheese. For me, the best part was the fact that it went together in 30 minutes. The key is to thoroughly cook the rappi so it is evenly flavored and very tender. Rappi is not like other vegetables that get tough the longer you cook. Quickly salt-blanch them (I go from boiling water to skillet…to each their own) and sautee. This kills most of that unpleasant bitterness.

Also, I love orecchiette. Right up there with buctani and cavatelli as my favorites.

Orecchiette with rappi and goat cheese
By Jared Paventi

  • 8 oz. rappi, cleaned, stemmed and chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 lb. orecchiette
  • 6-8 oz. goat cheese, sliced into pieces
  • olive oil
  • kosher salt

Bring water to a boil in a stockpot or Dutch oven. Salt the water and add the rappi. Boil for four minutes. Using a large slotted spoon or small mesh strainer, remove the rappi and transfer to a bowl of ice to stop cooking.

Add additional salt to the boiling water and add the pasta. Cook to the package’s directions.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over high. When it shimmers, add the garlic cloves and rappi. Heat through then add the lemon juice and wine to the pan. When the liquid boils, reduce heat to medium and saute for 15 minutes.

Drain the pasta and top with the rappi. Toss to coat, then add the goat cheese to the bowl.

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