Whenever I make a simple pasta dinner, I serve this rapini on the side. Rapini has become much easier to find in the supermarket these days, and its unique flavor and texture pair perfectly with a rich pasta dish.
Rapini is a relative of good old fashioned broccoli that is grown primarily for its leaves rather than its flowers (florets). It has that wonderfully bitter taste that so many under-utilized Italian vegetables do, and because if this, it roasts up incredibly nicely. Dress it with a little olive oil to encourage caramelization and sprinkle it with chopped garlic and a pinch of chili flakes. You’ll love the way the crispy, sweet bits contrast with the other flavors.
Roasted Rapini with Chili and Garlic:
1 large bunch rapini, bottom trimmed, washed, and patted dry
3 Tbsp. olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, chopped
a few pinches of chili flakes
a generous sprinkling of kosher or sea salt
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place the prepped rapini on a large sheet pan and drizzle with the olive oil. Toss gently to coat as thoroughly as possible. Sprinkle in your garlic, chili flakes and salt and toss again.
Roast for 10 minutes, undisturbed. At the 10 minute mark, your rapini leaves should be starting to brown but the stems will still be bright green and firm. At this point, lower the heat to 325 degrees and continue to roast for 6-8 minutes longer to soften the stems.
The rapini is ready when the leaves are crispy and browned and the stems are just tender. Serve immediately.