One of my favourite vegetables is rapini. It’s easy to cook with, and it has this distinctive taste that leaves a real kick in your mouth. Many find the taste to be bitter, and so avoid eating the vegetable. But if you combine it with the right foods, like garlic and chili, it actually creates a very robust flavour that your mouth will love you for.
Rapini is quite popular in Italian and Chinese cuisines. It is similar to broccoli in that they both have florets, but rapini is more abundant in dark green leaves, and has longer stems. The best part is that rapini is jam packed with all the stuff that’s good for your health. I mean really good for your health. Take a look at these nutritional facts (all data below is based on a serving size of 1 bunch of rapini):
• Calories – just 144, which equates to 7% of your daily vaule (DV), based on a 2000 calorie diet.
• A very high source of dietary fiber (49% DV), something the body needs to help regulate the digestive system, gastrointestinal tract, and improve metabolism.
• Vitamins and Minerals – rapini contains a long list of vitamins and minerals. High on the list are vitamin A (396% DV), vitamin C (270% DV), vitamin K (1398% DV), calcium (52% DV), folate (78% DV), potassium (43% DV) and iron (31% DV). These are all essential in maintaining bone health, immune health, and lowering the risk of heart disease. Folate is key for cell growth and metabolism. Iron is needed for your body to make red blood cells, which carry the oxygen we need to stay alive. And potassium ensures that our internal organs, like the heart and kidney, work properly.
• Fatty Acids – you can even find omega-3 fatty acids in rapini. Our bodies cannot produce omega-3 fatty acids on their own. So we must get them from our diet. We need this fatty acid to help prevent and treat serious diseases such as heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and depression.
I know that eating healthy is boring and that we would all much rather enjoy a greasy burger or some fries. I get it, it’s a lot more fun. But whether you like it or not, your body needs all the goodness of rapini to keep you in tip-top shape, so that you can have fun in life. And hey, if eating this one vegetable means that you get amazing returns on your health, then it doesn’t sound so hard, does it? I’ll even help you get started by sharing my super easy Rapini and Hot Italian Sausage with Small Shells Pasta recipe with you.
1 bunch rapini, washed and chopped to small pieces
2 hot Italian sausages, cut into ¼ inch cubes
4 cloves garlic, diced
2 tsps chili pepper sauce/paste
6 handfuls small shells pasta (adjust amount based on hand size)
1 tbsp canola oil
Pinch of salt to taste
In a medium size pot, bring water to a boil, add pasta, and lower to medium heat. Cook pasta for about 10 minutes, or until desired tenderness. Pour pasta into a strainer, and set aside.
Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium to high heat. Add oil. Add garlic, and cook for about 30 seconds, lowering the heat to medium-low. Add the sausages, and cook for about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add rapini, cook for about 1 minute, add about ¼ cup of water, stir. Cook until rapini is tender, and the sausage is cooked through. Add the pasta you had set aside earlier. Stir to combine, allowing the pasta to be re-heated. Remove from heat, and serve.