Rapini and Whole Wheat Fettuccine with Lemon Carbonara Sauce

If you haven’t tried rapini, also called broccoli rabe, try it in this recipe. It is quite a bitter green and a lot of recipes out there are for simply sauteeing it with garlic or some other simple ingredients. The combination of pancetta, lemon, creamy sauce and Parmesan cheese really help to balance out the flavour of the rapini so you can enjoy the strong taste without it overwhelming your palate. If you really don’t want to try rapini, I have made this with lots or Italian Parsley instead of rapini. To lighten this recipe up, feel free to substitute some milk for the cream but if you do that, make sure you add and mix the eggs with the lemon juice and zest first or you will get curdled milk (gross!!). Another note, don’t skip the lemon zest – it really makes this a stand-out dish.

Rapini is very high in Vitamin A, Vitamin C and is a good source of calcium, iron and fibre. If you are interested in more nutritional information on rapini (broccoli rabe), click here.

I make this meal for my husband and son quite often, but trust me, don’t try to make a little kid eat the rapini. It is just too bitter and they will be pretty pissed off if you try to sneak it into their mouths (my hubby did that – talk about strong reaction from Timothy). Timothy loves the pasta and sauce but he makes sure that no green parts are on the pasta before it goes in his mouth.

This recipe serves 4 if you go with a normal serving size. If you are very hungry then you can easily expand the recipe by adding another egg and a splash more cream (or milk) and of course, more pasta.
Keep in mind that carbonara can be tricky because you are cooking with eggs and if you don’t want scrambled eggs mixed with greens and pasta (I have done it – tastes fine but the texture is undesirable). So when the pasta is done, make sure everything else is perfectly ready to go, including Parmesan freshly grated and your family seated at the table. To make sure that everything is timed well, I usually cook the pancetta crisp, then add the garlic and rapini together then take it off the heat and cook the pasta until it needs about 2 more minutes and then put the rapini, pancetta and garlic back on the heat. It isn’t how a master chef would do it, but it works if you need to let the dogs out, stop the toddler from falling off a chair or anything else a normal person has to deal with as they make dinner.

Serves 4
Prep time 10-15 minutes, cook time 10-15 minutes.
Ingredients
10-12 oz whole wheat Fettuccine (or spaghetti, or linguine)
1 bunch of rapini (broccoli rabe), washed and chopped, 2-3 cups
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 oz pancetta, diced
zest and juice of half a lemon
1/2 cup whipping cream
2 whole eggs and 1 egg yolk
2 tbsp Parmesan cheese plus more at the table
1 tsp olive oil

How-to
1. I start by chopping the garlic and setting it aside in a little dish. Then I zest and juice the half lemon into a medium glass measuring cup, making sure to wash the lemon first. Add the eggs, cream and Parmesan cheese to the measuring cup, mixing well with a fork.
2. Start your pasta water boiling and start frying the pancetta with the olive oil in a large saute pan.
3. This is when I chop the rapini. Cut the thick stems off and discard and then continue to chop the rapini until you have nice bite sized pieces. I like the pieces that look like mini broccoli florets and the leaves. As I chop, I usually get rid of any thick stalky bits that I have missed.

Letting the rapini wilt before removing it from the heat

4.  When the pancetta is starting to brown, put in your pasta to cook.
5. When the pancetta is brown and crispy, add the rapini and garlic to the saute pan. Stir to get it heated through and then remove it from the heat until the pasta needs only two more minutes.
6. Once the pasta is close to being done, put the rapini back on at a medium heat. When the pasta is al dente, drain the pasta and add it to the saute pan and toss with the rapini and garlic.
7. Remove the pan from the heat and pour in the egg and cream mixture while tossing the pasta continuously with tongs. If you find it a little runny, put it back on the heat and toss constantly until you get a nice glossy consistency. Be sure to take it off the heat immediately and never take your eye off it when it is on the heat. This is when your hard work for the past 15-20 minutes could turn into scrambled eggs and pasta. If you need to thicken the sauce, make sure to keep the pasta moving and take it off the heat as soon as it is close to where you want it. It can very quickly cook too much. If you over cook it, don’t worry, it will taste fine – just don’t admit you screwed it up.
8. Serve immediately either in the saute pan or in a nice bowl with plenty of extra Parmesan cheese.

Tossing the pasta with the eggs and cream

Yields 4

Rapini and Whole Wheat Fettuccine with Lemon Carbonara Sauce

Rapini and Whole Wheat Fettuccine with Lemon Carbonara Sauce

15 minsPrep Time

20 minsCook Time

Save RecipeSave Recipe

Ingredients

  • 10-12 oz whole wheat Fettuccine (or spaghetti, or linguine)
  • 1 bunch of rapini (broccoli rabe), washed and chopped, 2-3 cups
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 oz pancetta, diced
  • zest and juice of half a lemon
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 2 whole eggs and 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tbsp Parmesan cheese plus more at the table
  • 1 tsp olive oil

Instructions

  1. I start by chopping the garlic and setting it aside in a little dish. Then I zest and juice the half lemon into a medium glass measuring cup, making sure to wash the lemon first. Add the eggs, cream and Parmesan cheese to the measuring cup, mixing well with a fork.
  2. Start your pasta water boiling and start frying the pancetta with the olive oil in a large saute pan.
  3. This is when I chop the rapini. Cut the thick stems off and discard and then continue to chop the rapini until you have nice bite sized pieces. I like the pieces that look like mini broccoli florets and the leaves. As I chop, I usually get rid of any thick stalky bits that I have missed.
  4. Letting the rapini wilt before removing it from the heat
  5. When the pancetta is starting to brown, put in your pasta to cook.
  6. When the pancetta is brown and crispy, add the rapini and garlic to the saute pan. Stir to get it heated through and then remove it from the heat until the pasta needs only two more minutes.
  7. Once the pasta is close to being done, put the rapini back on at a medium heat. When the pasta is al dente, drain the pasta and add it to the saute pan and toss with the rapini and garlic.
  8. Remove the pan from the heat and pour in the egg and cream mixture while tossing the pasta continuously with tongs. If you find it a little runny, put it back on the heat and toss constantly until you get a nice glossy consistency. Be sure to take it off the heat immediately and never take your eye off it when it is on the heat. This is when your hard work for the past 15-20 minutes could turn into scrambled eggs and pasta. If you need to thicken the sauce, make sure to keep the pasta moving and take it off the heat as soon as it is close to where you want it. It can very quickly cook too much. If you over cook it, don't worry, it will taste fine - just don't admit you screwed it up.
  9. Serve immediately either in the saute pan or in a nice bowl with plenty of extra Parmesan cheese.
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