Casarecce Pasta With Italian Sausage And Broccoli Rabe (Rapini)

pasta with sausage and broccoli rabe

Originating in Sicily, casarecce pasta is perfect for a quick and easy weeknight pasta dish when combined with sausage and greens. The broccoli rabe, also known as rapini and cime di rapa, with its slightly bitter taste complements the richness of Italian sausage for a delectable meal.

Italy has a wide range of pastas and casarecce is one that I discovered earlier in the year. Originating from Sicily, casarecce, which literally means homemade, is a wide strip of pasta that is rolled like a scroll and has a toothsome texture that is perfect for thick or chunky sauces and vegetables. Bits of the sauce get trapped in the center of the pasta’s scroll shape and flavor every bite and it hold up well to the Italian sausage and slightly bitter broccoli rabe.

Marcella Hazan wrote:

It is in the south of Italy that the mildly bitter, peppery taste of broccoletti di rape, known there as cime di rapa, is most popular. Their earthy quality agrees so well with sausages.

A dish like this where pasta, meat and green vegetables are all served together means you will be in and out of the kitchen in no time. The casarecce pasta, sausage and broccoli rabe dish is full of flavor and the only thing needed to complete the delicious meal, is to add some crunchy garlic bread and a glass of your favorite Italian wine.


Casarecce Pasta with Italian Sausage and Broccoli Rabe
Casarecce Pasta With Italian Sausage And Broccoli Rabe

Casarecce Pasta With Italian Sausage And Broccoli Rabe (Rapini)

Serves 2 as a main dish, 4 as a first course, adjust the recipe accordingly

  • 1 bunch of broccoli rabe, washed and thick stems discarded

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • 4 to 8 oz. hot Italian sausage, casings removed, meat crumbled

  • 1/4 onion, chopped

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • a pinch of crushed red pepper

  • salt and pepper to taste

  • 1/2 c. chicken broth

  • 1 c. reserved pasta cooking water

  • 1/2 lb. pasta such as casarecce, orecchiette or penne

  • 1/4 c. grated Pecorino Romano cheese plus more to serve at the table

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. 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, testing often, until the stems are just tender, about 3 minutes. Using tongs or a mesh strainer, scoop out the broccoli and set aside. Save the water and return to a boil. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente, about 10 to 12 minutes. Drain the pasta, saving a cup of the water.

While the pasta is cooking, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large sauté pan. Add the sausage and cook over moderate heat, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until just cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes. Add 3 more tablespoons of oil, the onion, garlic and red pepper to the pan and cook for 1 minute. Deglaze with the chicken stock, stirring to scrape up all the brown bits then add the broccoli rabe and simmer until hot throughout, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the pasta to the sausage and broccoli rabe, toss until the sauce thickens up slightly. Sprinkle with cheese, toss again and taste for any additional seasoning. If the pasta appears dry, add some of the reserved pasta water and toss again. Transfer the pasta into shallow bowls. To finish the dish, you may wish to add a drizzle of extra olive oil or an additional grating of cheese just before serving.


  • Broccoli rabe can be quite bitter in its raw form but mellows as it cooks so I always blanch it first to help remove some of that bitterness. After blanching, you can cool in ice water to preserve its green color, if you are not going to use it right away.

  • After blanching the broccoli rabe, I like to use the same pot to cook the pasta.

  • I used Italian hot sausage but Italian sweet fennel sausage is good as well.

  • I used casarecce pasta that was made with traditional bronze dies used to extrude the pasta, That gives it a rough texture that allows it to better absorb and capture sauces but another pasta may be substituted.


pasta with sausage and broccoli rabe
Casarecce Pasta With Italian Sausage And Broccoli Rabe

I have to agree with Marcella Hazan that broccoli rabe and Italian sausage is a delicious match. While in the past I’ve usually combined the two with orecchiette, I believe my new favorite combination will be prepared with casarecce pasta. Italy has a wide range of pasta shapes and I believe we need to keep trying different ones. Not because one shape is better than another, they are just different in texture and taste to go with different sauces and accompaniments.


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71 thoughts on “Casarecce Pasta With Italian Sausage And Broccoli Rabe (Rapini)

  1. I wish I could find broccoli rabe more often. This pasta dish sounds delicious Karen, and my local Italian market carries that shape of pasta. Always fun to serve a pasta dish with something more than penne or the more common shapes. Thanks for sharing this recipe, I’ll be trying it very soon.

    1. Thank you Lea Ann, I’m glad you like the recipe. While both our markets usually have broccoli rabe, our Fresh Market always carries the nicest bunches of it. Hope you can find some.

  2. Pasta with rapini and sausage is such a terrific combo. We sometimes substitute Swiss chard for the rapini — also a nice flavor. Your version of this dish is terrific. Love the shape of the casarece, too. I’ve had it in restaurants but never cooked with it. This is a great dish to showcase it. Thanks!

    1. Hi John, Thank you for your compliment. You’ll have to give the recipe a try using the casarecca pasta…we really like it in this dish.

  3. Pasta is a favorite at this house, and with the addition of Italian sausage it is always well received. Yours is yet another recipe to try.

  4. Molto bene! I love Marcella Hazan and I agree with both of you and need to try this one. Where did you get the sausage? I am not happy with the Publix sausage though there is a butcher down here that makes it..hmmm

  5. I also only learned to make casarecce a few years back, largely after watching some enticing TV cookery shows. This is an appetizing way to use the pasta shape . . . The similarity possible between Western and Asian cooking again strikes me here . . . as far as appearance is concerned the dish looks so, so similar to many of the SE Asian stirfries I prepare . . . minus a few sauces perchance 🙂 !

  6. I don’t have the broccoli rabe in my pantry but on any given day I usually have all the other ingredients. This looks exceptionally delicious and a nice change from red-sauce pastas. On my list!

  7. Love every ingredient in this dish! Casarecce are one of my favourite pasta shapes, and I love Italian sausage meatballs. The only thing very hard to come by here is rabe broccoli.

    1. Thank you for your compliment Kiki. How about using löwenzahnblätter, dandelion leaves or rûbstiel, turnip greens they are both a slightly bitter green that would go well with the sausage. While they don’t have the same taste and consistency as broccoli rabe I think they would be good.

      1. Funnily, I’ve recently considered trying Löwenzahnblätter as we have those “pests” growing in the garden like mad. Couldn’t bring myself to do it though. Yet 🙂

    1. Sounds like a great sausage to use Mad Dog. If I use Italian sausage that doesn’t have fennel, I’ll usually add some ground seeds for added flavor.

  8. We often make this with orecchiette, as you have done, because casarecce isn’t easily sourced here without going online. But we do agree with you — if you can get it, it’s a wonderful pasta form. I would love to see how it was made… I wonder if the Pasta Grannies have an episode on casarecce?

    1. Hi David, until I discovered casarecce I always used orecchiette. Barilla makes both and I can get it at one of our markets. Pasta Grannies makes fusilli which looks very similar…they are made with a wood or metal rod similar to a wooden skewer.

    1. You are welcome Eva, I’m glad I could share this shape and name with you. This recipe really is nice for a weeknight meal as it is so quick to prepare.

  9. Oh, I loved Marcella Hazen and have her very first book. She was very stern in the correct way to prepare Italian food—no dilly dallying with your own versions! I learned how to make homemade pasta from this book!

    Your recipe sounds enticing. The right shape of pasta is so important. I’ve never tried broccoli Rabe but will see if my grocery has it. Funny, I also have a pasta/sausage recipe on my blog today. I hope you visit!

    All the best,


    1. Hi Jane, If you like greens that are slightly bitter like turnip, mustard, etc. I think you will really enjoy broccoli rabe. It works very well with sausage by cutting the richness. Your orzo and sausage dish looks great…I use orzo a lot. I sold must of my huge collection of cookbooks when we moved from New England but I keep of of Marcella’s. 😁

  10. This looks amazing Karen! We’re always looking for new pasta dishes so we can include more veggies in our diet. I can’t wait to try this recipe. Hugs, CoCo

    1. Thank you for your lovely compliment CoCo. I hope you will enjoy the pasta with sausage and broccoli rabe, it is one of our favorites.

  11. This looks scrumptious and I wish it could jump off the page and onto my plate! Thank you for saying, “hi” today on my blog. I’ve missed yours and am so glad to be reintroduced to it and to you. Stay well my friend.


    1. Hi Geni, It is so nice to have you stop back by so that we could reconnect. Thank you for your nice compliment about the pasta dish.

    1. Hi Sammie, Thank you for stopping by for a visit and your nice compliment. It really is a quick and easy meal to prepare. If you fiancée is anything like my husband, he will love the pasta.

    1. Thank you Bobbi, yes I really loved the sausage and broccoli rabe with the casarecce. Its texture goes so nicely with the other ingredients.

    1. Hi Zaza, Thank you for your nice compliment. I’ve been having trouble with my comments going through on your blog but your strawberry ice cream is perfect for this summer.

    1. Hi MJ, Thank you for your compliments about the recipe and the new header. I have two photos, one of a road through a French vineyard in Alsace and the other of vegetables. The randomly change so I don’t know which you saw but I’m happy you liked it. 😘

    1. I’m glad you like the combination of flavors Liz. It really is a quick dinner to put together so it is great for a lazy summer meal.

  12. Thank you very much Gloria. Your frozen tiramisu cheesecakes look great too. I still can’t leave a comment with most of my blogspot and blogger friends but do know I’m following along.

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