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Author Notes: I took inspiration from Mark Bittman, who once wrote a post encouraging some pasta with your vegetables instead of the reverse. Also, credit goes to the Kitchn site, which once posted a great-looking recipe for pasta and spinach with lemon-mascarpone sauce that stuck with me until now. Orecchiette are a traditional pairing for broccoli, but the rapini in this recipe combines quite well with the pasta, and the tangy, creamy sauce offsets its bitterness nicely. —Rivka
- 1 large bunch rapini (broccoli rabe), cleaned, ends trimmed, chopped into thirds
- 1 1/2 cups orecchiette
- 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
- zest of 1 meyer lemon
- 3 tablespoons freshly-squeezed meyer lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- freshly cracked pepper
- 1/4 cup hazelnuts, coarsely chopped and toasted
- 1/4 cup grated parmigiano reggiano cheese
- In a large sauce pan, bring plenty of water (at least 6 cups) to a boil. Add broccoli rabe, cover pot, and blanch about 1 1/2 minutes, until firm but tender and still very green. Remove greens and shock in an ice bath to stop cooking.
- Refill pot with more water, add several pinches of salt, and bring to a boil.
- Meanwhile, combine mascarpone, lemon zest and juice, nutmeg, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Drain pasta about 1 or 2 minutes before it's done, reserving about 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Transfer pasta to a large saute pan, turn the heat to low, and add butter and broccoli rabe. Toss to combine and heat through.
- Add mascarpone mixture and again, stir to incorporate, so that each piece of pasta and broccoli gets coated in a bit of the mascarpone sauce. Add hazelnuts; transfer to plates, top with grated cheese, and serve immediately.