Not to be dramatic, but if I had to choose my “last meal on earth” it would likely be this pasta. Imagine noodles tossed in a concentrated garlicky, spicy, olive oil rich broth served with rapini, large lima beans and plenty of parmesan cheese. It’s simple, infused with incredible flavour, comforting and best paired with a glass of white wine. This dish is actually a long standing treasured meal made by my family. My dad ate it growing up. I ate it growing up. And now I make it for my husband who is a ‘rapini pasta’ convert. Today I am sharing this Colatruglio family favourite with you.
The “sauce” for this pasta is actually a broth, made by sautéing onion, garlic, anchovies, red chile flakes and dried oregano in olive oil. The garlicky mixture is then combined with vegetable stock and slowly simmered and reduced until you have an intensely flavourful liquid. The noodles will happily swim in this magical broth along with large buttery lima beans and slightly bitter rapini. It’s not a soup, but it is meant to be “brothy” for lack of a better description. This dish is completed with fresh cracked black pepper, good quality parmesan, a drizzle of your best olive oil and more red chile flakes. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.
There are two key factors that contribute to the deliciousness of this recipe. One, there is a good amount of olive oil. I have actually reduced the amount of olive oil quite a bit compared to how much my Italian grandmother, aka Nonna, pours into the pot. But it really is crucial for the velvety broth to cling to the noodles and the overall deliciousness. Secondly, the anchovy paste adds incredible salty, um depth of flavour which melts into this dish perfectly.
While I encourage you to try this recipe as is there are some substitutions you can try if need be. If anchovies are not your jam, you can use chopped kalamata olives. As well, if rapini is not available to you then simply use broccoli. Lastly, if you can’t find the ‘large’ variety of lima beans then go for chickpeas or white cannelini beans.
From my family to yours, I hope you love this pasta as much as we do! Make sure you grab a fork and a spoon when diving into this pasta bowl. A fork to twirl a perfect bite of noodles and a spoon to slurp up the heavenly broth. Bon Appetit!
Ciao for now,
- 1/3 cup (80 ml) olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely diced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 tsp (1 ml) dried red chile flakes
- 1 tsp (5 ml) dried oregano
- 1 tsp (5 ml) anchovy paste
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Freshly cracked black pepper
- 3 cups vegetable stock
- 1 can (540 ml) large lima beans (or chickpeas or white cannelini beans)
- 1 bunch rapini, each stalk chopped in about 2 in pieces (separate the stems from the florets and the leaves)
- 4 servings pasta (according to package, approximately 80 gr per person)
- Garnish: parmesan, additional dried red chile flakes, cracked black pepper, drizzle of good quality olive oil
- Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and sauté for about 5 minutes.
- Add garlic, chile flakes, oregano, anchovy paste and salt. Stir for a few minutes or until garlic is fragrant.
- Add vegetable stock, bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes, reducing the amount of liquid by about one-half. Add drained beans to heat briefly.
- While the stock is simmering, steam the rapini. Add about 2 inches of lightly salted water to a large pot. Add stems first and let steam for a few minutes longer than the rapini tops. Rapini is cooked once the stems are tender.
- Meanwhile, cook pasta in boiling salted water. When pasta is cooked, al dente, remove from water with tongs and add pasta to the simmering stock.
- To serve, add pasta with stock to individual plates, top with rapini and garnishes.
Variations and Substitutions: Use olives instead of anchovy paste, if desired. Other beans can be substituted for the large lima beans (chickpeas, white cannellini or navy beans, etc.)
Dietary Considerations: Vegetarian (omit anchovy paste), Vegan (omit anchovy paste and parmesan cheese), Dairy-Free (omit parmesan cheese)