Rapini is a lot like broccoli and you may know it as one of its many other names (Broccoli Rabe, Broccoletti, Broccoli di Rape, Cime di Rapa, Rappi, Friarielli (in Naples) just to name a few. It is found in lots of Mediterranean and some Chinese dishes. Rapini could be described as a love child between kale and broccoli, you have stems and leaves similar in texture to a kale, though slightly more delicate, and then you have little flower heads like broccoli florets. Simple to say it is packed with nutrients and not a whole lot of calories so it is an instant winner in most circles. I like it simply prepared but it is a very versatile green and can be a great addition to a lot of more complex dishes.
1 bunch Rapini
3-4 cloves garlic
Handful of roughly shredded aged gruyere
Dried red pepper flakes
Drizzle extra virgin olive oil
Squeeze of lemon
1. In a large skillet or wok sauté (on high heat) sliced garlic cloves and chili flakes in olive oil until garlic looks toasted.
2. Trim ends of Rapini and wash in cold water drain and add to the skillet allow to "wilt". Stir occasionally for about 5 minutes; you don’t want to over cook the tender leaves and you want the stems to be tender but still have a little crunch (use a fork to check them.)
3. Remove from heat sprinkle with cheese, lemon juice and maybe a little salt and pepper to taste; serve warm.
This is a simple warm salad that is open to so many variations I like to serve it alongside a crostini with a grilled chicken breast and a glass of dry white wine for a complete meal. Throw in some toasted pin nuts or substitute a creamy goat cheese and play with the acid by using a little balsamic vinegar instead of the lemon juice. You can also use this recipe for other greens like kale or swiss chard. Just remember to watch the greens, you want to bring out their color and just slightly soften their texture.