Pappardelle with Broccoli Rabe and Ricotta

Adapted from Martha Rose Shulman via The New York Times

If you’ve been reading Weekly Greens for a while, you may be detecting a pattern. I seem to gravitate towards recipes that include just a few simple ingredients – pasta, a vegetable and a combination of cheeses. This latest is another winner. Because there are so few ingredients, be sure to use the best you can find. Fresh, handmade ricotta enhances this dish tremendously. If you can find it, get it. Of course, you can always make your own fresh ricotta, too.

  • 1 pound broccoli rabe
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 3/4 pound pappardelle
  • 3/4 cup fresh ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • Black pepper
  • Rinse the broccoli rabe and pick it over for leaves that are wilting or starting to turn yellow. Trim the dry ends. Prepare a large bowl with ice water and set aside.
  • Fill a large pot with water. Salt the water generously, then bring it to a rolling boil. Add the broccoli rabe and cook for no more than 2 minutes. The greens will be just barely tender. Remove greens from the water with tongs or a slotted spoon and place in the ice bath to stop the cooking. Do not drain the hot water. You will use the water to cook the pasta in the next step. Allow greens to sit in the ice bath for a few minutes, then remove them and squeeze dry. Roughly chop greens.
  • In a large skillet, warm olive oil over medium heat. Add minced garlic cloves and cook until fragrant, about one minute. Add the broccoli rabe to the pan and cook for another minute. Greens will be coated with oil and garlic. Remove from heat.
  • Return water to a boil and add the pasta. Follow package instructions for al dente. For the dry variety I used, the pasta cooked for 4 minutes. You can also use fresh, if you prefer, and the cooking time will be shorter. Before draining the water, remove 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid and place it in a large bowl. Add the ricotta to the bowl and stir to make a creamy sauce. Drain the pasta and add to the bowl along with the greens and garlic and the Parmesan cheese. Taste seasonings and adjust if necessary. Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper and serve immediately.
  • Quick Tips
  • 1. You can find fresh ricotta at Whole Foods in the section with the fancy cheeses. I’ve found it sold in a one pound tub and the only variety is the whole milk version. I might boldly suggest that you save this recipe for another day if your only option is the typical plastic jar variety found near the sour cream and cream cheese. Wait until you can find fresh. Or make it yourself.
  • 2. Fresh pappardelle also makes this dish a standout. I used dried the most recent time I made this dish, but it was a high-quality dried variety made with egg yolks. Delicious! When you can find fresh, it takes the dish up another notch.
  • 3. Don’t like or can’t find broccoli rabe? You can use a pound of any other leafy winter green instead. Try chard or kale as a substitute.

Preparation time: 5 minute(s)

Cooking time: 15 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 4 – 6

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