I love this pasta dish! The richness of the sausage against the slightly bitter broccoli rabe is a flavor combo that can't be beat. It's crucial that you hang on to some of that pasta cooking water to pull it all togehter.
Orecchiette with Sausage & Broccoli Rabe
Total time: 30 minutes
⅓ cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup plain fine dried bread crumbs
2 tablespoons salt, plus more, to taste
1½ pounds broccoli rabe, trimmed
1 pound orecchiette
½ pound sweet Italian sausage, casings discarded
4 large garlic cloves, minced
Pinch of red pepper flakes
½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
In a skillet over medium-low heat, warm the 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the breadcrumbs and stir to coat them with the oil. Season lightly with salt and cook, stirring often, until the crumbs are an even, deep golden brown, about 10 minutes. Pour onto a plate and let cool. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and add 2 tablespoons of salt. Add the broccoli rabe and cook, testing often, until the stems are just tender, 2 to 3 minutes.
Using tongs or a wire mesh skimmer, lift out the broccoli rabe into a sieve and cool it quickly under cold running water. Drain and squeeze gently to remove excess moisture. Chop coarsely and set aside.
Add the pasta to the boiling water; stir well and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente, according to the package directions. Meanwhile, in the skillet over medium-low heat, warm 1/3 cup olive oil. Add the sausage, garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring and breaking up the sausage with a wooden spoon, until the sausage is browned, about 7 minutes. Add the broccoli rabe and stir to combine. Cook until the broccoli rabe is hot throughout, about 2 minutes. Season with salt.
When the pasta is ready, scoop out and reserve about 2 ladlefuls of the cooking water, then drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Add the sausage mixture and the cheese and stir and toss well over low heat to combine, adjusting the consistency with some of the cooking water, if needed. Divide the pasta among warmed plates or shallow bowls, top each portion with a sprinkle of the toasted bread crumbs and serve immediately.