Monday dinner: Cavatelli and rappi

Rapini, or rappi, seems to be bigger downstate than here in Upstate America. Pizza shops and Italian restaurants near my sister on Long Island almost always offer the bitter greens as a topping or stuffing in pizza. And most pasta houses offer some combination of sausage and rappi over pasta. Here in Syracuse, it’s a little tougher to come by. The Coppertop Tavern has recently offered the veggie as an ingredient in a few dishes, but otherwise it’s tough to find.

Rappi is not particularly tough to cook, but unlike spinach or escarole, there is a process. You have to blanch rappi to tenderize the stalks and leaves before sautéing them. Rappi is a bold, bitter green that is closer to a mustard or collard green than kale or spinach.

Cavatelli and rappi has been a family favorite since I was in elementary school. Personally, I hate trimming and cleaning it so buying Wegmans‘ chopped rappi is well worth the $3.99/6 oz. bribe (you can get a much larger bunch for $1.50 or $2). My quest for a quick Monday dinner brought me back to this:

Cavatelli and rappi
by Jared Paventi

  • 6-8 oz. rappi, cleaned and trimmed
  • 16 oz. frozen or fresh cavatelli
  • 1 cup chicken stock, or 1/2 cup chicken stock and 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • olive oil
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, minced
  • kosher salt (approx. 1/4 cup)
  • grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese

Bring a stock pot of water to boil. Add kosher salt and the rappi. Boil the greens 5-7 minutes, or until the stalks are tender. In the meantime, heat about 1 oz. of olive oil over high heat in a large skillet. When the oil shimmers, add the minced garlic.

When the rappi is done, use a large slotted spoon to transfer the rappi to your skillet (it will shrink significantly when boiling). Add your cavatelli and cook as directed (frozen: 5-7 minutes; fresh, 2-3 minutes). Pour the chicken stock or stock-wine mixture over the rappi and saute, bringing the liquid to a boil.

Drain your pasta and transfer for a large bowl. Dump the greens and liquid over the top and toss with grated cheese. Serve hot.

Note: If you want to use sausage in this recipe, it’s pretty easy. Take 8 oz. of bulk Italian sausage and brown it. Drain half of the grease from the pan and add the cooked rappi with 6 oz. chicken stock or a half-and-half blend of stock and white wine.

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