Orecchiette with sausage and broccoli Rabe recipe

Orecchiette with sausage and broccoli Rabe recipe

Orecchiette with sausage and broccoli Rabe recipe
nutritional information (per serving)

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nutritional information
Servings: 4
amount per serving
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat 5g23%
27 mg9%
579 mg25%
dietary fiber 4g15%
total sugar 1g
Vitamin C 21 mg104%
Calcium 239 mg18%
iron 4 mg23%
Potassium 362 mg8th %
*The % Daily Value (DV) indicates how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories per day is used for general nutritional advice.

(Nutritional information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Orecchiette with sausage and broccoli Rabe originally comes from Apulia, the boot heel of Italy. Inside, orecchiette pasta (“little ears” in Italian) acts like little catcher's mitts, gripping the chunky Italian sausage and broccoli raven sauce. Dried orecchiette can be found in well-stocked grocery stores and Italian markets. If you can't find orecchiette, use other small cup-shaped pasta like cavatelli or conchiglie (medium bowls).

What is Broccoli Rabe?

Broccoli Rabe (also called Broccoli Raab or Rapini) is a bitter green more related to turnips than broccoli. It looks a bit like a leggy, leafy version of broccoli, but has an invigorating bitterness that adds a nice flavor to pasta dishes.

Choose grapes with dark leaf greens with no yellowing and thin stems (no thicker than a pencil) for the best texture and flavor. To mitigate some of the bitterness, blanch the rabe in boiling water, as in this recipe, before adding to the dishes. If you can't find a rabe, substitute broccoli, broccolini, or young beet greens and proceed with the recipe as directed.

To balance the rabe's bitterness, it's paired here with browned sweet Italian sausage and shallots. A sprinkling of red chili flakes spices up the dish, but is optional.

Don't throw away the pasta water!

Since there is no tomato or cream in the dish, some of the water used to cook the rabe and pasta is used to moisten the dish. Place a measuring cup next to the strainer to remind yourself to save some of the cooking water before you drain the cooked pasta!

The dish is rounded off with freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese, which gives it a nutty, salty note; Use Parmigiano Reggiano if you like. Serve immediately, the noodles continue to soak up the sauce while the dish is set.

“This orecchiette, broccoli rabe and sausage was a simple yet elegant Italian-style meal to make and enjoy every night. Broccoli Rabe can be a bit bitter on its own, but when you cook it and combine it with pasta and cheese, it softens nicely.” . Add some crusty Italian bread and a tossed salad for a filling, balanced meal.” —Diana Rattray

  • Salt

  • 8th ounces sweet Italian sausagehousing removed

  • 2 tablespoon olive oil

  • 3 cloves Garlicthinly sliced

  • 1 prize Red Chile flakes

  • 1 bunch (12 to 14 ounces) Broccoli RabeTrim off tough ends, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces

  • 12 ounces (3 1/2 cups) dry orecchiette pasta

  • 1/2 Cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese

  • Fresh ground black pepper

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    The spruce eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  2. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil.

    The spruce eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  3. Meanwhile, break the sausage into small pieces. Put the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the sausage to the pan and cook, undisturbed, until browned on one side, about 4 minutes.

    The spruce eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  4. Reduce the heat to low. Add the garlic and chili flakes and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Cover and remove from stove.

    The spruce eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  5. Add the broccoli Rabe to the boiling water and cook, stirring frequently, until the leaves are wilted and the stalks are crisp and tender, about 3 minutes.

    The spruce eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  6. Use a small strainer or tongs to scoop the broccoli rabe out of the water. (A few rabe bits will remain in the water, no problem.) Drain the broccoli rabe in a colander and rinse under cold water until cool enough to handle.

    The spruce eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  7. Squeeze the Rabe broccoli dry and add to the pan with the sausage mixture. Cover the pan and place on low heat.

    The spruce eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  8. Bring the water back to a boil and add the pasta. Cook al dente. Drain, reserving 3/4 cup of the cooking water.

    The spruce eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  9. Add the drained pasta to the sausage mixture. Gradually stir in enough pasta water to lightly cover the pasta. Stir in cheese, season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

    The spruce eats / Maxwell Cozzi

recipe tips

  • When the stems of broccoli raven are thicker than a pencil, they tend to be tough. If needed, either chop finely or cut off and discard the thickest stems.
  • Be sure to drain the broccoli Rabe well after blanching so it doesn't get soggy in the finished dish.

recipe variations

  • Use broccolini or baby beet greens if you can't find broccoli rabe.
  • Other short pastas such as medium-sized clams, cavatelli, or gnocchetti (the dry pasta, not to be confused with the potato-based dumplings) can be used in place of the orecchiette.
  • For a heartier dish, use 1 pound of Italian sausage.
  • Replace the Italian sausage with turkey or chicken sausage.
  • If you don't have Pecorino Romano cheese, consider Parmigiano-Reggiano or a quality Parmesan cheese.

How to store it

  • Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat in a skillet over low heat or in the microwave until heated through. Add a splash of water if needed to loosen the sauce.
  • To freeze, transfer pasta to an airtight container or freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw the noodles in the refrigerator overnight.

Go on

Broccoli Rabe can be blanched, squeezed dry and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. In Step 7, add to the pan with the sausage and allow a few minutes of cooking time to fully warm up the rabe.

What is the difference between Broccoli Rabe and Broccolini?

Broccoli Rabe is a cruciferous vegetable. Despite its name, Broccoli Rabe does not taste like broccoli. The stems, leaves, and florets are all eaten, and the taste is somewhat bitter, like mustard or turnip greens.

Broccolini is a hybrid vegetable – a cross between broccoli and Chinese broccoli. Broccolini has thinner stems than broccoli and the flavor is milder and slightly sweet.

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