Orecchiette with sausage and broccoli rabe is originally from Puglia, the heel of the boot that is Italy. In it, orecchiette pasta (“little ears” in Italian) act like little catcher’s mitts that hold onto the chunky Italian sausage and broccoli rabe sauce. Dried orecchiette are available at well stocked grocery stores and Italian markets. Use another small cup-shaped pasta like cavatelli or conchiglie (medium shells) if you can’t find orecchiette.
8 ounces sweet Italian sausage, casing removed
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 pinch red chile flakes
1 bunch (12 to 14 ounces) broccoli rabe, tough ends trimmed, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
12 ounces (3 1/2 cups) dry orecchiette pasta
1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
Steps to Make It
Gather the ingredients.
Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil.
Meanwhile, break the sausage up into small pieces. Add the oil to a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil shimmers, add the sausage to the pan and cook, undisturbed, until the browned on one side, about 4 minutes.
Reduce heat to low. Add garlic and chile flakes and cook, stirring frequently until fragrant, about 1 minute. Cover and remove from the heat.
Add the broccoli rabe to the boiling water and cook, stirring frequently, until the leaves have wilted and stalks are crisp-tender, about 3 minutes.
Use a small sieve or tongs to scoop the broccoli rabe out of the water. (Some bits of rabe will remain in the water, that’s fine.) Drain the broccoli rabe in a colander and rinse with cold water until cool enough to handle.
Squeeze the broccoli rabe dry and add it to the pan with the sausage mixture. Cover the pan and set it over low heat.
Return the water to a boil and add the pasta. Cook until al dente. Drain, reserving 3/4 cup of the cooking water.
Add the drained pasta to the sausage mixture. Gradually stir in enough reserved pasta water to lightly coat the pasta. Stir in the cheese, season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.