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Welcoming 2011 with Rapini and Sausage Pasta

Rapini Sausage Pasta with Lobster Tail
Rapini Sausage Pasta with Lobster Tail

Celebrating the start of a new year can be a cathartic experience. We feel as though some things can be left behind, along with the change in digits. The world starts over, and with that – for us in Canada – there is almost a glimmer of hope that the Winter will eventually end. The combination of the Winter Solstice and the New Year seem to bring hope for a new start.

That makes it a great holiday for us to celebrate. J and I don’t have our own Christmas traditions, and have always floundered for a day to choose for ourselves. This year, we made the decision to celebrate New Year’s Day. It’s a day to relax, tidy up from the parties of the night before, live in jammies and watch movies.

To this, we’re adding a special dinner for two.

Rapini Sausage Pasta
A frickin' adorable rapini bud. Delicious!

This year’s special dish is something that I’ve made in various forms over the year – pasta with rapini. Full of lemony goodness and topped with lots of Parmigiano-Reggiano, this pasta takes a bit of the bite out of the bitter rapini. With florets that are sometimes mistaken for broccoli, rapini comes in bunches of leaves and buds that can be sautéed or steamed.

It is quite a bit more bitter than broccoli or spinach, and requires a proper combination of flavours to ensure it doesn’t overpower your meal. I find that sweet, lemony, buttery flavours really help to incorporate the rapini into the meal. I often serve it as a side to steamed crab, as the sweet crab meat and melted garlic butter take the edge off.

This pasta dish is best when made with al dente, chunkier hand-shaped pastas like orecchiette or cavatelli.

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