Pasta with Rapini and Pancetta

I received some beautiful rapini (broccoli rabe) in my vegetable box this week, and have been looking forward to using it.  I decided to take a break today and use it in a simple, really satisfying lunch. It required very few ingredients (and thus very little prep-work): brown rice pasta, pancetta, rapini, red pepper flakes, and white wine.

I prepared the rapini by separating the leaves and small forets from the main stalks, then roughly chopping the stalks. I sliced the pancetta into slices about 1/2-inch wide. I didn’t measure the pasta, since I like to make extra – you can use it easily in leftovers either cold (tossing in a tiny bit of olive oil to separate the strands) or hot (just drop it into boiling water for 30 seconds or 1 minute until it is hot).

Cook the pasta according to package directions (I used brown-rice spaghetti – my latest favorite).

In a 10-inch heavy-bottomed skillet, heat:

  • 1 tsp olive oil

Swirl it around the pan once it’s hot, then add:

  • 2 oz. pancetta, sliced

Cook the pancetta over medium heat, stirring frequently with a metal spatula or tongs, until it is crispy then drain on paper towels. (I did this in two batches so I could watch it more carefully). If there is more than 1 Tbsp. of oil in the pan at this point, drain off any excess. Returning the pan to medium heat, carefully add (it will sizzle and steam):

  • 1/2 cup white wine (I always have sauvingon blanc on hand)

With a wooden spoon, scrape up any browned-on bits from the bottom of the pan. Next add:

  • rapini stems, starting with the thickest stems first then gradually adding thinner ones, which will take less time to cook

Sautee the rapini stems in the white wine until they are just starting to get tender – I like mine pretty crisp, and tasted a piece starting at about 5 minutes to be sure it didn’t get too soft. The liquid should be mostly absorbed (but add more wine or water if the pan starts to get dry). At this point, add to the pan:

  • rapini leaves and florets

Toss rapidly with tongs to coat with remaining liquid. Cook, tossing frequently for only about 30-seconds or one minute. It will wilt more even after taken off the heat. Rapini tastes so good when it is lightly cooked I’m very careful not to overcook it.

Combine on each plate:

  • cooked pasta
  • rapini
  • crispy pancetta


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