A great big thank you to Randy Shore, one of our Sunshine Coast neighbours, for sharing one of the recipes from his cookbook Grow What You Eat, Eat What Your Grow.
Spicy Broccoli Rabe with Pasta
Some vegetables are meant for grown up taste buds, and broccoli rabe may be top of the list. Similar to rapini, this slightly bitter Italian cousin of broccoli hates growing in the heat, preferring the cool soils of spring and autumn. This dish stands up as a meal on its own or as a side that incorporates starch and a green vegetable in one. You can also substitute broccoli or gai lan, whichever is looking good in the garden that day.
Makes 4-6 servings
- 2 tbsp kosher salt, for pasta water
- 1/3 cup (60 mL) walnut halves
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 4 oz (115 grams) bacon, cut into lardons
- 1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 tsp crushed fennel seeds
- 1 dried red chili, crumbled
- 1 lb (500 g) broccoli rabe
- 1 lb (500 g) bow-tie pasta
- ½ cup (125 mL) grated Parmesan cheese
In a large pot on high heat, bring 6 qt/L water and salt to a boil.
In a sauté pan on medium heat, toast walnuts for about 2 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent burning. Remove walnuts from pan, crumble with your fingers, and set aside.
In the same pan, warm olive oil, add bacon lardons, and fry until crispy. Add onions, garlic, fennel seeds, and chili. Sauté for about 5 minutes, until onions are lightly browned. Cut broccoli rabe into 2-in (5-cm) pieces to separate thick stems from slender tops and leaves. Add stems to the pan and cook for 2 minutes, then add leaves. Reduce heat to low.
Put pasta in boiling water and cook al dente, according to package directions. Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup (250 mL) pasta water.
Add pasta and cheese to vegetable mixture and toss to combine. Add reserved water, 1 tbsp at a time, and toss gently to combine and form a creamy sauce.
Top with walnuts.