Recipe provided by Simon Bryant
Rapini, also known as broccoli rabe, is a leafy green vegetable with flowering heads that resemble broccoli florets. It hits the farmers markets and better fruit vendors in the cooler months. The seeds are also becoming more readily available, and its fairly easy to grow. (I am the worst brassica grower in the Southern Hemisphere, but even I have had success with rapini.) At a pinch, you can use Chinese broccoli (gai lan) in this dish, but you should look for a slightly older bunch with darker green leaves and a good amount of flowering heads, because the young stuff lacks the required bitterness. The flaked almonds really bring out the subtle nutty undertones of the rapini, as does frying the garlic beyond a sweat to golden brown. You will need to stand over the pan, ready to arrest the cooking with a splash of lemon juice or white wine when you're doing this, as the difference between nuttiness and burnt is about 10 seconds. This is actually one dish where I would consider using granulated garlic: you will lose that wonderful fresh garlic aroma, but the granules will deliver the desired flavour and texture without burning.
½ Cup (100 g) dried Kabuli chickpeas (see ingredients), soaked overnight in cold water
500 g penne
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ cup (40 g) flaked almonds
6 cloves garlic crushed or 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
Salt flakes and cracked black pepper
Juice of 1 lemon
2 bunches rapini, stems roll-cut (see page 83) into 4 cm lengths, leaves ripped or sliced
½ cup (40 g) shaved parmesan*
1 handful flat-leaf parsley leaves
Drain the chickpeas, discarding the soaking water. Place them in a saucepan and cover with cold water. (The less water you use, the quicker the chickpeas will cook, so cover them by just a few centimetres and top up the water during cooking if necessary.) Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook for about
1 hour until tender to the bite. Drain and set aside.
Cook the penne in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain, then toss the pasta in about 2 teaspoons of olive oil and spread it out on a large tray or plate to prevent clumping.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180°C fan-forced (200°C conventional). Toast the flaked almonds, shaking the tray halfway through cooking, for 5-10 minutes or until they're aromatic and slightly browned. Set aside.
Preheat a heavy-based sauteuse or frying pan over medium heat and add
30 ml of olive oil, the garlic and a good pinch of salt (this will speed up the caramelisation of the garlic). Fry the garlic, stirring constantly, until its golden brown, then immediately add half of the lemon juice to the pan. Add the chickpeas and rapini stems and saute for a couple of minutes until the chickpeas are warmed through and the stems are just tender. Fold in the rapini leaves, then add the penne and stir to warm through. Season well with salt and pepper, then add the remaining lemon juice and olive oil and stir to coat all ingredients.
* Parmesan/Parmigiano-Reggiano is made with animal rennet. We suggest using a parmesan style hard cheese or look for a suitable variation such as a dairy free or soy parmesan.