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.
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.