Saturday, January 28, 2006

IMBB 22 - Fettucine with Rapini and Lardons

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I made quite a few noodle dishes recently in preparation for this month’s edition of Is My Blog Burning (IMBB) hosted by Amy of Cooking with Amy. I will start with the easy stuff. Here is a pasta dish that is as easy as it is traditional: fettuccine with lardoons and rapini (or broccoli rabe).

I don’t cook very often with bitter greens. I like the bitterness of coffee and chocolate but less so the bitterness of most vegetables. Still, once in a while, I get tempted by a bunch of dandelion greens, chicory or rapini. I guess this weird behaviour of mine is the grown up version of those of kids who gobble extremely sour candies for the challenge and for the trill of unusual intensity of a primary taste. Well, it is true that some people don’t find rapini to be bitter. As usual, its all a matter of personal perceptions. But I still like to think that eating rapini, at least when you didn’t grow up eating them, can be interesting for culinary thrill seekers.

Ingredients needed:

  • 1 bunch of rapini
  • Unsmoked bacon (pancetta for instance)
  • Olive oil
  • Garlic
  • Fettuccine
  • Dried chilli pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper

First, clean your rapini. You can, as I did, separate some of the leaves from the tops. It should help you controlling cooking time as leaves cook much faster then the stems. Some people avoid the leaves but I see nothing wrong with them when the flavour I am seeking is on the bitter side.


Secondly, blanch the vegetables in a large pot of boiling water and immediately shock them in cold water so that they keep their superb color. Refill your pot with clean water and salt and put to boil again so that it is ready to cook your pasta.

Thirdly, brown some unsmoked bacon (I used the ‘lardoons’ from my little butchering from a few weeks ago) in some good olive oil in a large pan. Here the olive oil serves more as a flavouring ingredient since bacon does not need any extra fat to cook properly.
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Fourthly, add some coarsely chopped garlic to the pan along with some dried chilli pepper flakes. Keep the temperature at medium to avoid burning the garlic. The goal here is to infuse more flavours to the oil and pork fat already in the pan.
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Fifthly, add the rapini. Saute them for a few minutes. Make sure that your pasta are ready at this point.

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Sixthly, transfer the pasta to the pan directly from the pot in which they cooked. This will allow some pasta water to get in the pan hence producing a nice and delicious ‘sauce’.
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Mix well together, adjust seasoning (salt and pepper) and serve immediately.
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It is that simple! In fact, most pasta recipe are extremly simple and you can adjust them to your own taste. You don't like rapini? Use broccoli instead. You don't like bacon? Use shrimps or scallops. You can transform recipes like this one in thousands of new and different pasta dishes. Let the ingredients inspire you (motivational guru intonation).

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3 comments:

Gini said...

I made something on the same lines recently. The picture looks quite appetising.

ejm said...

I love this combination as well. In fact, I think it's one of my favourites. Our variation is to use whole dried chilies and blacken them before adding the other stuff.

-Elizabeth

boo_licious said...

Thanks for the detailed step by step pictures. Very nice indeed and yes, I often use different combinations myself but yet to try rapini as we don't really get them here.