Black Bean Pasta Rapini with Harissa

Smoky Harissa Rapini with Black Bean Pasta

This gluten free black bean pasta tossed with rapini and harissa is an earthy, spicy, bold flavored bowl of delicious!

Black Bean Pasta Rapini with Harissa

Sometimes I’m amazed at some of the foods I ate as a child. I love the horror on people’s face when I tell them I used to gnaw on pickled pigs feet when I was little. If you’re even remotely familiar with pigs feet, you know that gnaw is not an exaggeration; you literally need to tear the sparse fatty flesh off the pigs knuckled feet with your teeth. Was this a cruel childhood joke played on an innocent child? I look back now and think — yes! But as a kid, a jar of pickled pigs feet on my grandmother’s kitchen windowsill was perfectly normal. Even as a teenager, dinner at my house was always a little “different” than at my friends. Or maybe I should say dinner at a friends house could not be more different than at mine? While their parents were serving up pork chops and canned corn, my mom was tossing anything she had available with pasta: eggs, cauliflower, peas, beans, clams…the list goes on and on.


My mom didn’t cater to us kids…at all. We ate what she cooked and we generally loved it. That included rapini, aka, broccoli rabe. Another odd childhood food, in my opinion. Not many kids like the slightly grassy, often bitter finish of this leafy green. Yes, rapini is a leafy green! It tastes nothing like broccoli (it’s actually a member of the turnip family) and has a distinct bitter taste that I just love. I also love Belgian Endive so maybe it’s something about my taste buds? My mom usually sauteed rapini in olive oil and garlic and I thought it was the best thing since white bread.

Harissa Rapini with Black Black Pasta

So what better way to highlight the unique flavors of harissa and smoked paprika than tossed with pasta and rapini!

This dish took me under 10 minutes to make and an enormous amount of discipline not to eat the entire pan. I never really cooked with harissa before so I was kind of psyched at this month’s recipe redux theme: From boldly flavored smoked salts to actual smoking techniques, subtly smoked food is on-trend. The same can be said for spice as we savor heat from harissa, sriracha and smoked paprika. Show us the healthy dish you’re heating up with smoke and/or spiciness.

This dish fits the bill. The harissa is great because it’s not just heat, it has flavor, too. And the smoked paprika balances it out with a smoky, sweet aroma. If you love rapini you need to make this dish. Of course it’s super simple, too. Only 5 ingredients. I used my go-to, high protein, low carb, gluten free black bean pasta and it was perfect.

Broccoli Rabe Black Bean Pasta with HarissaSo even though my mom did perform the egregious act of allowing me to eat the pickled feet of pigs, I have to give her credit for exposing me to a varied array of healthy greens and vegetables at an early age. It’s probably why they are my favorite foods to eat today.

Smoky Harissa Rapini with Black Bean Pasta

Smoky Harissa Rapini with Black Bean Pasta


  • 1 head rapini/broccoli rabe
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 lb Explore Asian black bean pasta (or any pasta you love)
  • 2 tsp harissa
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • Sea Salt and pepper


  1. Heat a large pot of salted water to boiling on high. Wash the rapini, cut off the long stems and chop coarsely. Peel and roughly chop the garlic. Heat garlic and oil in a large saute pan on med high. Add your pasta to the water now. Throw rapini into the warmed oil and garlic, tossing well using tongs. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Allow the greens to soften. Once softened, stir in the harissa and smoked paprika. When pasta is al dente, use tongs to add the pasta to the saute pan. Don’t overdrain the pasta, the pasta water clinging to the noodles acts a sauce. Combine the pasta with the rapini and serve. Top with Parmesan cheese, if desired.

20 replies
  1. Jessica @ Nutritioulicious
    Jessica @ Nutritioulicious says:

    I’m super impressed with your mother for serving you those foods long before it was cool to serve kids real food! And believe it or not I know plenty of adults who won’t go near rapini today! This dish looks amazing!

  2. Rachael@AvocadoADayNutrition
    Rachael@AvocadoADayNutrition says:

    This looks amazing! I just love that black bean pasta you used. And I love that you admitted to the crazy things you ate as a child. No pigs feet for me, but my parents definitely cooked things like tongue and liver pretty frequently.

  3. Alex Caspero MA,RD (@delishknowledge)
    Alex Caspero MA,RD (@delishknowledge) says:

    I am so excited to have seen this recipe on Instagram this morning! I’ve been drooling over it ever since- looks incredible! I am always surprised at the foods I used to eat as a kid, I still have memories of bringing salami and mortadella sandwiches in elementary school! Talk about a cruel childhood joke, I can’t believe my mom used to send me with those lunches!

  4. Colleen
    Colleen says:

    I ate “pickled deer heart” growing up and scrapple (I know, I know). I love reading what YOU ate as a child, and am imagining this is why I watched Sweet Norah request and then “lap up” mussels for her birthday dinner (granted, far more benign than pigs feet and deer heart)! This looks delish and I’ll be making – pronto!

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