Spaghetti with Rapini, Anchovy & Chili Oil Topped with Lemon Breadcrumbs
This pasta is a cheap and easy twist on 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.
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 so that it isn’t only empty calories. The lemon breadcrumbs add just the right amount of acid and crunch to the pasta.
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1½ 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, to taste
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 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.
Bring a large pot of water to the boil; add the salt and bring back to the 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.