Broccoli rabe looks like a leggy cousin of broccoli, but it’s actually closer to a turnip green, with the same bitter, assertive bite. In this recipe its flavor is mellowed by blanching it and then pairing it with nutty quinoa pasta for a wintery meatless Monday meal. Choose broccoli rabe that has fresh—not split—stems, lots of green leaves and deep green florets.
Quinoa Spaghetti with Broccoli Rabe, Feta and Mint
- 1 lb. (500 g) broccoli rabe
- 3/4 lb. (375 g) quinoa or other whole-grain spaghetti
- 1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
- 6 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1 pinch red pepper flakes
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 cup (4 oz./125 g) crumbled feta cheese
- 1 cup (4 oz./125 g) walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
- 1/3 cup (1/3 oz./10 g) chopped fresh mint leaves
1. Cut the broccoli rabe stems into bite-size lengths and set aside. Coarsely chop the leaves and florets, keeping them separate from the stems. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the stems to the water and boil for 1 minute. Add the leaves and florets to the water and boil until wilted and just tender, about 3 minutes. Using a fine-mesh sieve or slotted spoon, quickly remove the broccoli rabe from the cooking water and drain in a colander, shaking off any excess water still clinging to the leaves.
2. Return the cooking water to a boil, add the pasta, and cook according to package instructions.
3. While the pasta is cooking, in a large fry pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the garlic and sauté until aromatic, about 1 minute. Add the reserved broccoli rabe and red pepper flakes and sauté for 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper, then reduce the heat to low to keep warm.
4. When the pasta is ready, reserve 3/4 cup (6 fl. oz./180 ml) of the cooking water and drain the pasta. Add the pasta to the broccoli rabe in the fry pan along with the cheese, walnuts and mint. Toss to combine the elements, adding as much of the reserved cooking water as needed to moisten the pasta. Serve immediately. Serves 4.
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our book Weeknight Vegetarian, by Ivy Manning.