Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Ziti e Rapini






     A Twist On A Classic Recipe!
     Ziti and Broccoli is a classic pasta entrée that is offered on the menu at many Italian American restaurants.  The classic preparation is simple.  Broccoli is quickly sautéed till it is al dente, then Besciamella Sauce and cheese is added.  After the sauce warms, Ziti Pasta is added and the ingredients are tossed together.
     Many chefs prefer a cream and cheese reduction method when making Ziti and Broccoli.  The result is a rich tasting sauce that has a much higher calorie content, which is okay because Ziti and Broccoli is most often offered as a special du jour during cold winter weather.  The extra heavy feeling of pasta with reduced cream and cheese provides long lasting warmth and comfort.
     Many Italian chefs prefer strong flavors and bitter flavors over mild tasting food.  When Rapini (Broccoli Rabe) is available, it can be used in place of broccoli when making Ziti and Broccoli.  "Ziti e Rapini" has a much stronger flavor and the Broccoli Rabe commands a slightly higher price.  The bitter flavor of the Rapini in a cream sauce with cheese is quite interesting, especially when served with an Italian dry white wine, like Pinot Grigio.  An acidic white wine helps to clear the palate, so the bitter flavor of the Rapini has a chance to shine.
     When making today's pasta recipe, the Italian cardinal rule concerning pasta sauce does apply.  Only make enough sauce to coat the pasta with flavor.  Pasta should never be swimming in sauce.  This is especially true when using the cream and cheese reduction method, because the tummy will feel full for days, if too much pasta with cream and cheese reduction sauce is consumed!
     
     Ziti e Rapini:
     This recipe yields 1 pasta entrée. 
     The better the quality of the Parmigiana Cheese, the better this simple pasta will be, so select an authentic imported Italian Formaggio Parmigiana.  
     Like many Italian a la minute pasta recipes, the sauce for this pasta can be made in the same amount of time that it takes to cook the pasta!
     Step 1:  Start cooking 1 portion of Ziti Pasta in boiling water.
     *Ziti takes about 10 minutes to become al dente and the sauce can be finished in the same amount of time!
     Step 2:  Heat a wide sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add 2 teaspoons of Pomace Olive Oil.
     Add 2 cloves of chopped garlic.
     Sauté till the garlic is a light golden color.
     Step 3:  Add 1 1/2 cups of trimmed Broccoli Rabe that is cut into bite size pieces.
     Add 1 small pinch of sea salt
     Sauté and toss till the broccoli rapini is almost cooked al dente.
     Step 4:  Add 1 1/2 cups of cream.
     Add 1 pinch of coarse ground black pepper.
     Bring the cream to a gentle boil.
     Step 5:  Add 3 tablespoons of fine grated Italian Parmigiana Cheese.
     Stir till the cheese melts into the sauce.
     Step 6:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Gently simmer and reduce till the sauce is a medium thin consistency that can coat a spoon.
     Keep the sauce warm over very low heat till the Ziti Pasta is ready.
     *If the sauce becomes too thick before the pasta is ready, add 1 or 2 tablespoons of milk.
     Step 7:  When the Ziti Pasta al dente, drain the water off of the pasta.
     Add the al dente Ziti Pasta to the sauce.
     Toss the ingredients together.
     Step 8:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Mound the Ziti e Rapini on the center of a plate.
     Sprinkle about 1 teaspoon of fine grated Italian Parmigiana Cheese on top of the pasta.
     No garnish is necessary!

     The bitter flavor of Rapini is a natural match for a Parmigiana Cream Sauce.  The coarse black pepper and garlic adds a zesty flavor accent.  This is a great pasta for a chilly day!

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