In Italy, broccoli rabe is also known as rapini and cime di rapa. It has a slightly bitter flavor that nicely compliments Italian foods, in this case Italian sausage and orecchiette pasta. Orrechiette means “little ears” in Italian, and the bowls of the orrechiette tend to trap bits of all the ingredients and sauce making every bite of Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe and Italian Sausage truly delightful. This dish is easy and fast to prepare, and great for those cold autumn or winter days just ahead.
Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe and Italian Sausage
- 12 oz orecchiette pasta
- 1 bunch or more broccoli rabe
- 5 links of Italian sausage or 10 oz bulk Italian sausage
- 1 can chicken stock or equivalent of home made
- ¼ cup olive oil or a bit more as needed
- 4 or 5 large garlic cloves sliced
- 2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes more or less to taste
- ¼ cup grated Parmigiano or Pecorino cheese
- 2 tbsp. butter
- In a large pot, bring 4 quarts of salted water to a boil.
- Coarsely chop the sausage and set aside. If using sausage links, remove the sausage from the casing first.
- Thoroughly wash the broccoli rabe, as it tends to be gritty. Trim off and discard the bottom 2 inches of the stem and remove the tough outer leaves, if any, leaving the tender leaves, stalks and buds. Chop the stems in half or thirds, as you prefer.
- Add the broccoli rabe to the boiling water and boil about 5-6 minutes until the stems start to soften. Remove from the water and set aside. Do not drain the water, as it will be used to boil the orecchiette pasta.
- In a large skillet, add the olive enough to cover the bottom of the skillet. Add the chopped sausage and cook through, about 5 minutes. Add the sliced garlic and sauté about 2 or 3 minutes. Then add the crushed red pepper and sauté for 30 seconds. Be careful not to burn the garlic and red pepper.
- Add the chicken stock and deglaze the pan then add the broccoli rabe. Bring the chicken stock to a boil then reduce to low heat and let simmer while the orecchiette is boiling.
- Bring the water back to a boil, add the orecchiette pasta and cook until just al dente. Drain the orecchiette and add to the skillet with the broccoli rabe and sausage.
- Add the butter and grated cheese and cook for 2 or 3 minutes while stirring and tossing the whole time until the sauce slightly thickens and orecchiette is well coated.
- Serve immediately topped with grated Parmigiano or Pecorino cheese.
The image Orecchiette, Spicy Pork Sausage, Broccoli Rabe by Susan Lucas Hoffman is used under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0) License.