Orecchiette Pasta With Broccoli Rabe and Sausage

Is there anything more flavorful and comforting than a bowl of pasta? Not if the pasta has spicy Italian sausage and  slightly bitter greens added. Sprinkle with freshly grated cheese and you have one delicious meal.

Orecchiette Pasta With Broccoli Rabe And Sausage

When you are really busy, you want something that is fast and easy. This rustic Italian meal is perfect and you don’t really need a recipe.

I happen to love orecchiette for this dish because the “little ears” trap all the little bits of goodness but any pasta will do just fine. I prefer hot Italian sausage with fennel but you could use your favorite sausage. If you don’t eat meat, leave out the sausage and you will still have a very tasty dish.

Orecchiette Pasta With Broccoli Rabe and Sausage

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. In the meantime, trim off the thick woody part of the stems of a large bunch of broccoli rabe (also known as rapini). Cut the broccoli into 2 to 3 inch pieces, adding the stems to the boiling water before the leaves. After a minute or two, add the tops of the broccoli rabe and cook for about one minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside in a large bowl. Save the water and return to a boil. Add 1/2 pound of orecchiette to the boiling water and cook until al dente.

Meanwhile, heat 2 Tbsp. of olive oil in a large sauté pan. Take 1/4 to 1/2 pound of sausage and cut into bite size pieces or remove from the casing and brown until just cooked through. Add 1/4 c. olive oil to the pan and then sauté  1/2 chopped small onion until soft. Add 2 to 4 cloves of minced garlic  and 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes and sauté for 30 seconds. Add the broccoli to the pan. Season with salt and pepper.

When the pasta is al dente add to the broccoli and sausage. Save a cup of the pasta water. Add a large handful of Parmesan or pecorino cheese and toss. If pasta appears dry, add some of the reserved pasta water or some extra olive oil.

In less than 30 minutes, you have a tasty pasta dish on your table that could be found on many a table in the Italian countryside.

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88 thoughts on “Orecchiette Pasta With Broccoli Rabe and Sausage

  1. A “large handful of Parmesan” is always the ticket 😉 I’m thinking you could even add fresh baby mozzarella or even the smaller “pearls” I’ve seen in the deli recently and serve it as a cold salad. Yum! Love your easy dinner idea here!

  2. I love this dish, Karen, and yours is a great recipe! Good tip about using the water for both the rapini and to cook the pasta. Depending upon the vegetable, I’ll sometimes boil it right along with the pasta. No matter, sausage and rapini is a great combination!

  3. I haven’t had my morning coffee yet and my mouth is already watering over this beautiful pasta dish. I’ve have already put the ingredients on my shopping list. I bet this is even more tasty the next day. Perfect for this busy week before Christmas.

  4. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of rabe…I’ll have to look it up. The dish looks great – so yummy.. Good, simple ingredients – pasta, sausage… some – rabe stuff, which I don’t know what it is but it sounds great – can’t be better really 🙂

    1. Hi Charles, Thank you for your nice comment. I would think that it might to called Rapini in France. I have also heard it referred to as Chinese broccoli.

  5. Gorgeous! Sounds incredible. I love whipping up pasta dishes after a long day at work when cooking a gourmet meal just isn’t in the cards. Great photo, too. 🙂

    1. Hi Caroline, I love cooking a gourmet meal when there is plenty of time but when you come home at the end of a day, quick is such a good thing. Thank you for your nice compliment.

  6. I’ve been wanting to try broccoli rabe. I keep hearing it mentioned and I’ve never eaten it. I think this is going to be the way I try it though – you can’t beat a good pasta and sausage dish! 🙂

    1. Hi Kristy, This is the perfect time to try broccoli rabe, as it is at is prime from fall through winter. Of course you can buy it all year, but now is when it’s at its peak. Sausage just adds so much to the flavor of the dish.

      1. Hi Karen! I made this for dinner tonight and LOVED it! The kids even tried the rabe (although they didn’t like that so much – lol). The only change I made was to add some porcini mushrooms. The whole dish was fabulous! Thanks for inspiring me to try something new. 🙂

      2. Hi Kristy, Thank you for trying the pasta dish and your review. I’m not surprised that the kids weren’t crazy about the rabe since it has a slight bitter taste…but at least they tried it. I love that they are willing to give everything a try. Porcini mushrooms must have added a nice flavor. I’ll try it the next time I cook the recipe.

    1. Hi Kate, It is always nice to give inspiration to a fellow blogger. I think we all have recipes that we love but haven’t made for so long without really knowing why. I hope you will enjoy the dish.

  7. Pasta+Cheese = My most heavenly combo (better than chocolate for me!!)… add sausage ( I think I eat more than most! yikes!) and I am over the moon. (Oh yeah the greens are always nice too!)

  8. I am just getting out and about to read posts so am late to the conversation…this looks terrific, Karen. Pasta, sausage and broccoli rabe, plus cheese? What’s not to love here! Actually it’s one of my favorite combos.

    1. Hi Phil, Thank you for stopping by for a visit. I agree, I love lots of chili pepper on many of my pasta dishes. I think you can see lots of red specks in the photo. I also put a shaker on the table for those how enjoy more spice.

  9. Karen, first of all, I adore your country kitchen. Such charm and warmth. It would be a pleasure to spend an afternoon cooking there. (We used to call those cupboards pie safes.)
    And you’re so right, this pasta dish is exactly right on a busy night. Easy to make, healthy and delicious!

    1. Hi Barbara, Thank you for stopping by for a visit and your lovely compliment. I’m glad you enjoyed seeing our kitchen, we do enjoy cooking there. You are welcome to spend time in my kitchen anytime. You are right about this being a healthy dish as well as a delicious dish.

  10. I love to eat pasta and Asian type noodles. It’s easy to cook and the endless combination of ingredients makes it a perfect meal every time. This is a tasty looking pasta dish. I’ll have to try it out next time. Thanks for sharing Karen. 🙂

  11. You have done it again.. another amazing recipe. I absolutely love this Orecchiette Pasta With Broccoli Rabe and Sausage recipe.. it just looks amazing and definitely a hearty and delicious meal.

  12. Can you believe I have never had orecchiette??? They are sold in every supermarket I know and yet, I always choose farfalle and penne… Same for broccoli rabe (here it’s called cime di rapa). Your pasta looks terrific! Thank you for the motivation to buy orecchiette and, who knows, maybe also broccoli rabe?

    1. Hi Sissi, I do hope I have inspired you to try orecchiette. Their little shape scoops up and holds the other ingredients. The cime di rapa is used in Asian recipes (which I know you love to prepare) as well. I think you will like it.

    1. Hi Colleen, I know what you mean about eating way too much pasta. Everyone has been commenting about all the pasta in my pullout drawers from my post “Our Christmas Kitchen”. But if I had to decide on one of my favorites…it’s this pasta dish.

  13. Is broccoli rabe the same as broccolini ? Either way totally agree with your comment on how quick and easy a pasta dish is and yours looks so good ! And I love orecchiette pasta for exactly the same reason as you ! 🙂

    1. Hi Carolyn, It is different from broccolini…has a slight bitter taste similar to Chinese broccoli. It goes by a lot of names… rapini, cime de rapa, brocolette, etc. I hope you will be able to find it.

  14. Thank you for this recipe, I had a similar recipe on my radar from Bill Granger. He bakes it all in the oven with chard and riccotta. However this looks even easier. I love having these type of ideas up my sleeve for lazy nights.

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