Orecchiette with broccoli rabe and sausage is one of my go-to dinners and I have a feeling it might become one of yours too! My favorite thing about orecchiette is it’s cup shape makes it the perfect vessel to carry bits of crispy sausage, garlicky broccoli rabe and salty parmesan cheese. It’s heavenly! The best part is this weeknight wonder comes together fast and only requires 6-simple ingredients!
This hearty pasta is a simple and delicious recipe that every home cook should keep in their back pocket. It’s a hit with both kids and adults.
Broccoli rabe or rapini tends to be bitter. Blanching it first cuts the bitterness and sautéing it with the fat from the sausage and a little bit of garlic makes it wonderfully flavorful! If you can’t find broccoli rabe at your market you could substitute broccolini or a regular head of broccoli.
Ingredients You’ll Need:
Here’s what you’ll need to make this recipe: broccoli rabe or broccolini, garlic, Italian sausage, chili flakes (optional) olive oil, parmesan or pecorino cheese, orecchiette pasta or another similar short-cut pasta shape.
Orecchiette: Orecchiette is named after it’s shape: little ear. Orecchiette is a bite-sized pasta, with a dome shape perfect for holding onto broccoli and sausage.
Sausage: I like to use Italian sausage with the casings removed. You can use chicken or pork. If you like a little heat go for a spicy Italian sausage!
Broccoli Rabe: Broccoli rabe has a pleasantly bitter flavor that differentiates it from regular broccoli or broccolini. If you can’t find broccoli rabe go ahead and use broccolini.
Step 1. Blanch the Broccoli Rabe
Start by blanching the broccoli rabe in a large pot of boiling water. Let the broccoli simmer for 1-2 minutes then transfer it to an ice bath to stop the cooking process. Reuse the same pot of water to cook the pasta.
Step 2. Saute the Sausage
In a large skillet or saute pan cook the sausage until golden brown and crispy. Use the back of a wooden spoon to break the sausage up into bite-sized pieces. Next add the garlic followed by the blanched broccolini.
Step 3. Add the Orecchiette
Add the cooked pasta to the pot with the sausage along with a generous splash of pasta water (about 1/4c) then fold everything together until evenly combined.
Step 4. Serve
Divide the pasta between bowls, top with a generous amount of grated parmesan cheese and sprinkle of crushed red pepper flakes.
Check Out the Step by Step Video:
FAQs and Expert Tips:
Leftovers can be stored covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat over low heat in a saucepan or in the microwave. Add a few tablespoons of water to loosen up the sauce as needed.
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Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe and Sausage
- 1 lb broccoli rabe or broccolini
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 lb mild Italian sausage casings removed
- 2 cloves garlic thinly sliced or grated
- 1 lb orecchiette pasta or any short-cut pasta shape
- 1/2 c grated parmesan cheese
- salt and pepper
- 1 tsp crushed red pepper optional
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Blanch the broccoli rabe until bright green and tender, about 2 minutes. Use tongs or a wire mesh skimmer to remove the broccoli from the water then transfer it directly into an ice bath. Leave the broccoli in the ice water for 3 minutes, or until cool. Then transfer the it to a colander and leave it to drain well for a few minutes.
- Cook the pasta to al dente in the same pot you just blanched the broccoli in. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water before draining.
- While the pasta is cooking, place a large saute pan or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, then the sausage. Cook the sausage until golden brown, stirring occasionally and breaking up any large pieces with the back of a wooden spoon. After about 5 minutes, add in the garlic.
- Give the blanched broccoli a rough chop and then add it into the pan along with the sausage and give everything a good stir. Next add the cooked pasta and a generous splash of pasta water to the pan. Cook everything together for another 2-3 minutes.
- Divide the pasta between plates or shallow bowls, top each portion with a hefty sprinkle parmesan and chili flake and serve immediately!
- Sausage: Pork, chicken or even a vegetarian sausage would work just fine. I recommend mild Italian but if you like a little extra heat you could so with spicy.
- Broccoli Rabe: You can use broccoli rabe, broccolini or even a regular bunch of broccoli cut into florets.
- Orecchiette: Orecchiette is a pretty common pasta shape these days. If you can’t find it you can substitute another short-cut pasta like; farfalle, penne, rigatoni etc.
- Leftovers can be stored covered, in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat over low heat in a saucepan or in the microwave. Add a few tablespoons of water to loosen up the sauce as needed.