Orecchiette, literally “little ears,” trap the morsels of sausage and bits of greens in this typical Puglian sauce, but other short pastas with grooves or hollows work well, too. If you prefer a little heat, use spicy Italian sausage instead of the sweet sausage. Any leftovers from this wholesome dish taste even better the next day, so make this flavorful pasta as a weeknight dinner for two and eat the leftovers for lunch.
Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe
- 1 Tbs. garlic-infused olive oil
- 1/4 cup (1/3 oz./10 g) panko
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 lb. (1 kg) broccoli rabe
- 6 Tbs. (3 fl. oz./90 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
- 3/4 lb. (375 g) sweet Italian sausages, casings removed
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
- 1 lb. (500 g) orecchiette, cavatelli or gnocchetti
- Freshly grated Parmesan cheese for serving
1. In a wide fry pan over medium-low heat, warm the garlic oil. Add the bread crumbs and cook, stirring, until golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the crumbs to a small bowl, season with salt and pepper, and set aside.
2. Using a small, sharp knife or vegetable peeler, peel away the thick skin from the tough lower stalks of the broccoli rabe (most of the bottom stalk portion). Cut crosswise into about 1-inch (2.5-cm) lengths. Place in a bowl, add cold water to cover and let stand for 1 hour.
3. In a large pot, bring 5 qt. (5 l) salted water to a boil. Add the broccoli rabe, cover partially and cook for 1 minute after the water returns to a boil. Using a wire skimmer, transfer the broccoli rabe to a bowl and set aside. Reserve 1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) of the cooking water and set aside. Reserve the remaining water in the pot. In a large fry pan over medium-low heat, warm 2 Tbs. of the olive oil. Add the sausage and cook, stirring to break up any clumps, until evenly browned, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is softened, about 3 minutes. Add the broccoli rabe and the reserved 1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) cooking water and toss to mix. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the greens are tender, 8 to 10 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, return the water in the pot to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to the package directions. Drain the pasta and add to the sauce in the pan. Add the remaining 4 Tbs. (2 fl. oz./60 ml) olive oil and toss to coat. Season with salt and transfer to a serving bowl. Sprinkle with the bread crumbs and Parmesan, and serve. Serves 4 to 6.
Couples will find inspiring ideas for everything from weeknight suppers to Saturday dinner parties in our Newlywed Cookbook.