Sicilians add raisins and pine nuts to many of their greens sautes and pasta sauces. Again, you can use any greens, or any combination of greens. To toast pine nuts, put them in a small pan over low heat until they are fragrant, stirring or shaking the pan frequently. They can burn quickly, so watch carefully.
3 T extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/8 t red pepper flakes
2 large bunches rapini, washed, roughly chopped (stems, leaves, florets)
1 T butter
1 medium (red) onion, thinly sliced
1 28-oz can peeled, whole tomatoes
1 t honey or other sweetener, optional
1/4 to 1/2 c raisins
salt and pepper
1-lb penne or other pasta
1/4 to 1/2 c grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese
1/4 c toasted pine nuts (or walnuts, but then it won’t be Sicilian…)
1. In a large skillet, put 2 T of the olive oil, the red pepper flakes and the minced garlic in a large skillet over medium heat. The garlic will soon become fragrant. Just as the garlic begins to gently sizzle, add the greens and a pinch of salt and stir well to coat with the oil. Cook, turning the greens over until they’re nicely wilted, for about 8 minutes, adding some water if they start to stick to the pan. Remove to a bowl and set aside.
2. In the same skillet, add the remaining 1 T of oil and the butter and heat over a medium-low temperature. Add the onion and cook slowly, even turning down the heat some, for 15 to 20 minutes, until very soft and sweet. Don’t let them burn. Bring a large pot of water to boil for pasta.
3. Add tomatoes to the onions along with the honey, if using, the raisins, and the salt and pepper. Increase heat, and, while, breaking apart the tomatoes, bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, still breaking up the tomatoes, until the mixture is saucy.
4. Cook pasta to your liking. Reserving about a cup of pasta water, drain the pasta. Add to the tomato sauce along with the greens and the grated cheese. Combine and heat through; add some pasta water if needed. Taste for seasonings and serve, topped with toasted pine nuts.