Apr 23, 2018

Spaghetti with Rapini, Anchovy & Chili Oil Topped with Lemon Breadcrumbs

Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 15 mins
This pasta is a cheap and easy twist on spaghetti agilo e olio, which translates to garlic and oil pasta.

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This pasta is a cheap and easy twist on the classic pasta dish, spaghetti agilo e olio, which translates to garlic and oil pasta. The addition of the anchovy adds a savory, umami element. Anchovies are full of salt so you won’t need to add much additional salt to the pasta, be sure to taste it first.

Spaghetti with Rapini, Anchovy & Chili Oil Topped with Lemon Breadcrumbs

Key Ingredients in This Recipe

Rapini

Rapini, or broccoli rabe, looks like a mass of leafy greens with little sprouts resembling broccoli. If you aren’t familiar with rapini but you like arugula then you will most likely like the peppery, slightly bitter taste of this green vegetable.

I buy my rapini from my local farmer’s market where it comes with the leaves intact which I prefer for this pasta dish. I’m a big fan of pasta so when I do treat myself to a bowl or plate I try to add some vegetables to keep it more well rounded.

Lemon zest

The lemon zest is the grated outer skin from the lemon. Use a zester or microplane to remove the zest. If you don’t have a zester use a paring knife or vegetable peeler to remove the rind and finely chop it. The lemon breadcrumbs add just the right amount of acid and crunch to the pasta. While Meyer lemon zest has a much sweeter, less acidic flavor than regular lemons they can be swapped if needed.

Olive oil

While all olive oil comes from the fruit of olive trees, it’s not all created equal. Extra-virgin olive oil is unrefined and made from pure, cold-pressed olives, giving it more of a true olive taste. Regular olive oil is made from a blend of both cold-pressed and processed oils. I typically cook with extra-virgin olive oil when deciding between the two. Olive oil has a lower smoke point than many other oils, making it better for lower temperature cooking. Save pricey olive oils for finishing the recipe where the flavors will really shine – like in dips, for breads and salad dressing.

Anchovy

Don’t count out anchovies, even if you aren’t a fan; give them a try in this rapini pasta recipe anyway. You can’t necessarily taste the anchovy flavor but they provide a briny, umami flavor that rounds out the dressing. While oil-packed anchovies are traditionally used, I also like using the anchovy paste that comes in a tube – it lasts longer and can be kept in the fridge for easy use.

Garlic

I always use fresh cloves of garlic, the pre-minced jars of garlic don’t taste the same. It loses a lot of the powerful garlic flavor when it’s jarred. This is because it has been soaked in water for a long period of time. Peeling garlic only takes a bit. As the garlic is sautéed the flavor mellows so it’s not very pungent but adds a base flavor.

spaghetti with rapini, anchovy and chili oil topped with lemon breadcrumbs ingredients recipe from cooking with cocktail rings

How to Make Spaghetti with Rapini, Anchovy and Chili Oil

  1. Make the anchovy chili oil. Heat a large sauté pan over medium-low heat, add the olive oil, red pepper, garlic and anchovy and cook, stirring occasionally, until the anchovies dissolve and the mixture is fragrant, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  2. Blanch the rapini. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil over medium heat. Add the rapini and cook until bright green and softened, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Using tongs, transfer to a colander and rinse under cold water.
  3. Cook the pasta. Return the pot of water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain and return the pasta to the pot. Add the sauce and cooked chard and toss to combine.
  4. Make the lemon breadcrumbs. Heat a medium sauté pan over medium-low heat, add the butter and allow to melt. Add the breadcrumbs and stir to evenly combine with the butter. Let cook, stirring occasionally until the breadcrumbs are golden brown, about 2 minutes. Remove to a small bowl and stir together with the lemon zest.
  5. Assemble and serve. Divide the pasta among warmed bowls and top with the breadcrumb mixture and cheese.
In this rapini pasta recipe spaghetti is tossed with rapini, anchovies & chili oil for an easy twist on aglio e olio and weeknight dinner.

Other Recipes to Try

If you enjoy this anchovy and rapini pasta recipe, I recommend checking out some of these:

spaghetti with rapini, anchovy and chili oil topped with lemon breadcrumbs closeup recipe from cooking with cocktail rings

Spaghetti with Rapini, Anchovy & Chili Oil Topped with Lemon Breadcrumbs

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Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • teaspoons crushed red pepper
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 5 oil-packed anchovy fillets, chopped
  • ¾ pound spaghetti
  • 6 ounces rapini with leaves, thick stems trimmed and roughly chopped
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 teaspoon meyer lemon zest
  • ¼ cup grated pecorino romano
  • Kosher salt, as needed

Instructions:

  • Heat a large sauté pan over medium-low heat, add the olive oil, red pepper, garlic and anchovy and cook, stirring occasionally, until the anchovies dissolve and the mixture is fragrant, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  • Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil over medium heat. Add the rapini and cook until bright green and softened, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Using tongs, transfer to a colander and rinse under cold water. Drain and set aside.
  • Return the pot of water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain and return the pasta to the pot. Add the sauce and cooked chard and toss to combine.
  • Heat a medium sauté pan over medium-low heat, add the butter and allow to melt. Add the breadcrumbs and stir to evenly combine with the butter. Let cook, stirring occasionally until the breadcrumbs are golden brown, about 2 minutes. Remove to a small bowl and stir together with the lemon zest.
  • Divide the pasta among warmed bowls and top with the breadcrumb mixture and cheese.

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