Broccoli Rabe Pasta with Spicy Olive Oil Dressing
Ingredients: 4 to 6 quarts cool water
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 pound pasta (preferably orecchiette; penne; or orzo)
2 bunches broccoli rabe (about 4 cups), cleaned, stems removed, cut into 2-inch pieces
1/4 cup Italian extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar, or to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, finely grated (about 1/2 cup), plus extra as needed
Instructions: Pour the water into an 8-quart stock pot; place over high heat, and bring to the boil. When the water begins to boil, add the kosher salt and return to the boil. Add the pasta, and immediately stir to separate the individual pieces. The water should return to the boil very quickly. If necessary, cover the pot until the water begins to boil again. Cook just until al dente (firm, yet tender), stirring once or twice during the cooking process.
While the pasta is boiling, blanch the broccoli rabe in a large sauce pot of rapidly boiling salted water until tender, about 2 to 3 minutes. Drain well in a colander, using your hands to squeeze out all excess water.
Place a large saute pan over medium heat; add the oil and heat through. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, and cook until the garlic just begins to sizzle, about 30 seconds. Add the blanched broccoli rabe; sprinkle with sugar, then season generously with salt and pepper. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed; remove from the heat. When the pasta is ready, drain thoroughly, then immediately toss with the lemon juice and sauteed broccoli rabe.
Add the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and toss to combine. Taste and adjust the final seasoning with salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and lemon juice.
Distribute the pasta among four individual serving plates; garnish with additional Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and serve hot, cold or at room temperature.
Notes: Substitute Swiss chard or spinach if you are unable to find broccoli rabe. Or prepare this recipe with regular broccoli for a delicious variation.