Celebrating the start of a new year can be a cathartic experience. We feel as though some things can be left behind, along with the change in digits. The world starts over, and with that – for us in Canada – there is almost a glimmer of hope that the Winter will eventually end. The combination of the Winter Solstice and the New Year seem to bring hope for a new start.
That makes it a great holiday for us to celebrate. J and I don’t have our own Christmas traditions, and have always floundered for a day to choose for ourselves. This year, we made the decision to celebrate New Year’s Day. It’s a day to relax, tidy up from the parties of the night before, live in jammies and watch movies.
To this, we’re adding a special dinner for two.
This year’s special dish is something that I’ve made in various forms over the year – pasta with rapini. Full of lemony goodness and topped with lots of Parmigiano-Reggiano, this pasta takes a bit of the bite out of the bitter rapini. With florets that are sometimes mistaken for broccoli, rapini comes in bunches of leaves and buds that can be sautéed or steamed.
It is quite a bit more bitter than broccoli or spinach, and requires a proper combination of flavours to ensure it doesn’t overpower your meal. I find that sweet, lemony, buttery flavours really help to incorporate the rapini into the meal. I often serve it as a side to steamed crab, as the sweet crab meat and melted garlic butter take the edge off.
Lemon Garlic Rapini with Sausages on Pasta
- 250g pasta, like cavatelli or orecchiete, cooked and drained
- 1 bunch rapini, washed and torn into chunks
- 1-2 tablespoons chopped shallot
- 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon chili flakes
- 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
- 2 cloves garlic, diced
- 1 sausage, cut into 1 inch chunks
- 1/2 cup white wine (can use water instead)
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 teaspoons dill
- 1-2 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Put rapini into a pot of boiling salted water, and cook for just a couple of minutes. Drain, and run under cold water to stop the cooking. Drain and put aside.
- Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a sauté pan. Add shallots, lemon zest and chili flakes, cook 1 – 2 minutes.
- Add garlic and mushrooms, cook until the mushrooms have released any liquids and have browned.
- Add sausages, and cook until browned.
- Deglaze the pan with wine (or water), making sure to swirl the liquid along the bottom of the pan so that it picks everything up. Add the butter, and let it melt.
- Add rapini and dill, and gently toss. Add lemon juice.
- Add pasta and gently toss. Add salt, to taste.
- (optional) Toss with a teaspoon of olive oil.
- Top with lots of Parmigiano-Reggiano, and freshly grated black pepper and serve immediately.