What an odd little recipe. I mean, it's good and all, and will be feeding me for at least three out of the five days in this work week, but as I puttered around my kitchen last night, blanching and draining and chopping and roasting and flipping and blanching again, I wondered if Beth Fortune hadn't possibly complicated things just a little too much.
Beth says that to tame the bitter edge of greens like rapini, you should first blanch and then stew them. But why take the edge off? Aren't you then better off just buying broccoli? Don't people like rapini precisely because of that bitterness that plays so well with flavors like smoky sausage or piquant hot pepper? I know I do.
To make this recipe, first you have to boil a big pot of water in which you blanch your rapini for a few minutes before draining them, cooling them, and chopping them into bite-size pieces. These par-cooked rapini then get stewed for an additional 15 minutes later on in the recipe, along with a browning onion and some fragrant paprika. All delicious, I tell you. But those rapini would have tasted just as good had they gone in the pot raw and stewed that way.
Then, the whole parboiling of potatoes before sliding them into the oven to roast? Unnecessarily complicated, in my book (as was, incidentally, the whole heating of the sheetpan, and the warming of the olive oil, garlic and paprika in said hot sheetpan). Why not just toss raw, cubed potatoes with olive oil, minced garlic, and paprika and put that pan in the oven 40 minutes before dinnertime?
I honestly don't know. (Oh, and russet potatoes? Not my favorite. Too floury. Aren't they better as baked potatoes served alongside your beef stew in a diner or something? I think I prefer Yukon Gold.)
What I ended up with was a perfectly fine Monday night dinner. Stewy greens studded with browned rounds of sausage (I used a chicken sausage instead of linguica or chorizo, I don't know, for lightness sake) surrounded by soft and fragrant potatoes that practically glowed with their dusting of paprika and garlic. But I had twice as many dishes to do than if the recipe had been more streamlined, which - somehow - irked me.
Oh, whatever. I'm such a complainer sometimes. Yawn.
I actually think the most interesting recipe in the article is the Caribbean-flavored crab stew, but something about soaking salt cod for hours and spending money that I don't have on crab just didn't jive with my idea of a cozy homemade dinner last night. If anyone else is feeling adventurous and flush with cash, would you let me know how it is?
Rapini with Sausage and Golden Roasted Potatoes
1 bunch rapini, ends of stems trimmed (about 1 1/2 pounds)
2 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4 -inch cubes (about 3 cups, diced)
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3/4 teaspoon paprika, divided
1 teaspoon minced garlic
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup chopped onions
2 links (about 10 ounces) linguiça or Spanish chorizo, cut into 1/2 -inch cubes
1/4 cup chicken stock
1. Bring a large, wide-rimmed pot of salted water to a boil. (Use about 1 tablespoon of salt for every 2 quarts of water.) Place a baking sheet inside the oven and heat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. Blanch the rapini in the boiling water until just tender, about 2 minutes. Remove with tongs or a strainer and place in a colander to drain, but do not discard the cooking water. Bring the water back to a boil. When the rapini is cool enough to handle, trim it into 2-inch pieces.
3. Cook the potatoes in the boiling water until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain the potatoes in a colander, shaking them to break up the edges a bit. Wipe any potato bits out of the blanching pot and return it to the stove.
4. Carefully remove the hot baking sheet from the oven. Pour 3 tablespoons of olive oil on the sheet and mix one-half teaspoon of paprika and the garlic into the oil. Put the potatoes on the sheet, stirring to thoroughly coat. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and a little pepper. Bake 20 minutes, stirring once or twice, until the potatoes have a nice crust.
5. Heat the remaining olive oil in the pot on the stove over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until golden and tender, about 8 minutes. Add the remaining one-fourth teaspoon paprika; stir to mix thoroughly. Add the sausage, stir to coat with the oil, and cook 30 seconds. Add the rapini and chicken stock. Stir to mix the sausage and onions with the rapini, cook over medium heat until the rapini is tender, about 15 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. To serve, place 1 cup rapini mixture in the center of a warmed soup bowl. Surround with the roasted potatoes.