This simple and versatile dish is sure to become one of your new dinner staples. The creamy noodles serve as a delicious vessel to pack in a healthy serving of seasonal vegetables, while the surprise bursts of lemon throughout pack a flavorful brightness and the variety of textures leaves all of the senses satisfied and craving more. Every time I make this dish I am asked to make it again or share the recipe - so don't be surprised if you soon find yourself in the same situation!
As we still find ourselves in the midst of winter, but are maybe craving something comforting, but a bit lighter and brighter than a heavy stew, this recipe is one of my favorite ways to incorporate all of the "brassica" vegetables that this time of year has to offer. I tend to shop with what's in season in mind and work my recipes around them, rather than going on a wild goose chase hunting down specific ingredients for a dish - so for this recipe you can easily switch up the broccolini for similar vegetables like kale, collard greens, chard, mustard greens, turnip greens, you name it. Pretty much whichever hearty, leafy greens you can find at the local market this time of year will be great with this dish.
If you or your guests are craving a bit more protein, this dish is also great with the addition of pancetta or Italian sausage, I just find that I don't miss it because of all the flavor and the hearty greens are typically pretty filling. If I don't happen to have leftover bread around, I'll often replace the breadcrumbs with some finely chopped, toasted walnuts and it achieves the same texture with a slightly nuttier taste I love. It's a recipe you can keep exciting by frequently switching things up slightly and playing around with which combination you enjoy most!
Lemon Brassica Bucatini
1 lb bucatini
1 bunch rapini (or broccolini)
1 dozen large Brussels sprouts
2 preserved whole lemons (available at most grocery stores or see recipe to make your own in advance)
1 tsp red pepper flakes
2 large cloves garlic (finely chopped)
8 oz. burrata
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
salt + pepper
Gather and prep your ingredients: chop off ends of rapini stalk (about 1 in.) and discard - slice the stalk lengthwise into long skinny strips and peel the groups of florets downward to remove into smaller pieces (as pictured above; chop off roots of brussels sprouts and separate exterior leaves, collecting as many of the darker leafier greens as possible (optional: finely chop inner section of brussels and add to dish or save to roast later!); remove soft interior of preserved lemons, slice lengthwise.
Fill large pot 1/2 way with water, salt generously. Bring to boil.
Meanwhile, add breadcrumbs and 1 generous tbs olive oil to saucepan. Slowly and gently bring up heat while moving breadcrumbs around frequently, until light brown and evenly toasted. Set aside and wipe down pan.
When water is boiling, add pasta to pot - cook for approx. 10 min, until slightly al dente (will finish cooking in pan).
While pasta is cooking add garlic and 1 tbs olive oil to saucepan. Cook garlic on low heat for about 1 minute, being careful not to let it burn. Add rapini, brussels leaves, lemon, and red pepper flakes to pan. Season with salt and pepper. Sauté until stems are tender and leaves are crispy.
Add pasta to saucepan on medium heat and toss with veggies, add about 1/4 cup of pasta water and 1/2 of the burrata - toss until water has reduced and sauce thickens. You should start to see the cheese become stringy and the noodles glossy.
Using your tongs or a large serving fork, swirl your pasta onto the center of your dish. Top with a few tears of burrata and breadcrumbs. Enjoy!
Recipe and photography by Jordan K Shaw