Cast Iron

Rapini with Vincotto

April 16, 2013
2 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

Near my home in D.C. is the best pizzeria on the East Coast (except for Pinocchio's in Cambridge, MA, which is Sicilian-style and amazing); 2 Amy's is Neapolitan joint whose wood-fired oven was built by a Napoli pizza maker. The restaurant was the first in America to be certified D.O.C. "The Verace Pizza Napoletana Association was established to protect and promote authentic Neapolitan pizza and defend its Neapolitan origins and traditions. As a member of the Association, we abide by these strict requirements and serve D.O.C. pizza."
I've been taking my boys there since my oldest was 8 months old. They've got a great wine list, fantastic cheese and charcuterie, and incredible daily specials in addition to their pies.
One of my favorite appetizers is the rapini with vin cotto. I've been to known to actually lick my plate to make sure none of the gooey, syrupy, incredible vin cotto goes to waste. Vinegar is one of my favorite condiments, and the bitter-sweet combo of it and the rapini in this dish is off the charts awesome.
This is my version of that dish!
Though vin cotto literally means cooked wine, I prefer to reduce Balsamic with a pinch of sugar for mine.
You know how amazing super-aged, super-expensive Balsamic is? It's like the best syrup ever? This is resonant of that but without the price tag. —em-i-lis

What You'll Need
  • For the vin cotto
  • 1 cup Balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • For the rapini
  • 1 pound rapini (broccolini), washed
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled, left whole
  • 2 peperoncino intero (about 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, fresh ones!), halved
  • generous pinch kosher salt
  1. Pour the vinegar and sugar into a small saucepan set over medium heat. Let reduce by a half to a third, 25-30 minutes. Set aside.
  2. Set a 6-quart pot of water to boil. When boiling, add the washed rapini and blanch for about 2 minutes. Drain, rinse under cold water, and set aside.
  3. Set a cast iron skillet over high heat. Add the olive oil, garlic and peperoncino and let cook/season the oil for a minute or two. Add the blanched rapini (watch out, the oil might spit) and let it sear. After a minute or two, toss carefully. After 3-4 minutes more, remove from heat. The rapini should be tender yet retain a definite crunch.
  4. Transfer the rapini, garlic and pepper to a serving platter and pour any remaining oil from the skillet over the veggies. Drizzle generously with the vin cotto. Season with more salt and some pepper if needed and/or you like.
  5. Get out some good bread so none of the juices left on your serving platter or plate go to waste!

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Rhonda35
  • Phillie Filly
    Phillie Filly
  • abunnybabe
  • Midge
  • boulangere

24 Reviews

Cynthia May 29, 2023
This was easy, quick and delicious!!!

em-i-lis May 29, 2023
Thanks so much!
Rhonda35 March 19, 2017
I used a strawberry balsamic vinegar - so delicious! This reduction would also be great on ice cream. :-)
em-i-lis March 19, 2017
I'm so glad you enjoyed the recipe, Rhonda, and that you made it your own! :) Thanks for letting me know!!!
Phillie F. March 12, 2015
I made this last week but instead of using plain balsamic vinegar (all that I had were fairly small bottles staring at $50 on up), I used fig balsamic vinegar that was about to expire; this dish was awesome and yes, all 3 of us licked our plates, literally. xo Best, Sue
em-i-lis March 12, 2015
Hi Sue, Fantastic!!! I love fig balsamic vinegar and can easily imagine it was a lovely sub for the regular. Thanks so much for letting me know you made and enjoyed this!! Yay! Emily
Heather September 28, 2014
I brought this dish out in the yard and declared to pets and family that this is the best thing I have eaten in ....I can't remember when. I would choose this over cheesecake (and that really does say a lot).
em-i-lis September 28, 2014
Heather, this is such an awesome, flattering endorsement of this dish. I can't thank you enough for bringing such a big smile to my face. Love that the pets got to hear the declaration too. :) Thank you!
Eric December 15, 2013
Great recipe - the vin cotta is great!i like doing this broiled adds a bit more toasty-ness
em-i-lis December 15, 2013
thanks, Eric!! And nice tip for variation! I'll have to try broiling!
abunnybabe December 15, 2013
Emily, which veg does the restaurant actually serve, broccoli rabe or broccolini? And what is your preference? I am a serious broccoli rabe lover, usually just parboiled and finished in garlic and olive oil. A few weeks ago I picked up a bottle of somthing called "Italian Saba" from the vinegar section at Fairway, I just thought it was a very thick, sweet, delicious tasting balsamic vinegar. Today I picked up a bunch of broccoli rabe at the market...guess what I am making for dinner tomorrow night? But, being from Brooklyn New York originally, I will be adding more than just 2 cloves of garlic. :)
I just looked at the bottle of Saba and in small writing it says "Vincotta Italiano"! It must be fate, huh?
em-i-lis December 15, 2013
hey there!! total fate!!! isn't vin cotto incredible? good find w/ the Saba! so, I believe the restaurant mostly uses broccolini but the menu says rapini. if memory serves, i've had the dish with both (at different times). i love anything bitter so groove on rabe but broccolini makes a great substitute!! use what you like best!
Midge July 1, 2013
I finally made this and I wondered what took me so long. So good!
em-i-lis July 1, 2013
I'm so glad to hear this, midge! Thank you so much, and congrats on your WC win today!
Rumi143 June 25, 2013
I don't believe rapini and broccolini are the same thing. In fact, the picture looks like broccolini, not rapini. They have very different tastes - broccolini is a cross between broccoli and Chinese broccoli and rapini is a member of the turnip family and is bitter.
em-i-lis June 26, 2013
They are not the same, but both are members of the Brassica family. Broccoli rabe/rapini is a member of Brassica rapa, the origins of which are in Central Asia.
Broccolini came to be as the result of an intentional hybridization of Brassica oleracea (broccoli) and alboglabra, so Central Asian and Mediterranean roots. It is bitter though less so that broccoli rabe.
All brassicas...
boulangere June 24, 2013
I'd much rather dine at your house than any restaurant.
em-i-lis June 24, 2013
Thank you, ma'am, you're always welcome!
Rinchen June 24, 2013
Last time I did the reduction I got distracted. The saucepan was impossible to restore to normal. Watch out.
AntoniaJames April 17, 2013
How do you keep them from turning light brown within 15 or 20 minutes of drizzling with the vinegar? I've never figured that out . . . ;o)
em-i-lis April 17, 2013
I don't know, AJ. :) The rapini seem to just keep that green!
AntoniaJames June 24, 2013
I suspect the two tablespoons of oil coating the rapini help; also, also the reduced vinegar + sugar probably has a much lower acidity level than your standard wine vinegars . . . .;o)
Midge April 17, 2013
Sounds like heaven to me. Going on my must-try list, as is 2 Amy's next time I'm in D.C.
em-i-lis April 17, 2013
Thank you Midge! I hope you like it. I could drink vin cotto plain, by the spoon, by the gallon. ;) 2Amy's is a MUST-do!!!