Orecchiette with sausage and broccoli rabe is a pretty standard meal. It’s also my beau’s favorite pasta dish to order at Italian restaurants so he was very excited to see a similar recipe for it in a recent Sunday NY Times. The recipe offered a few options so you can mix and match, and this is the final combo I used – and it totally worked.
Start by chopping up a head of broccoli rabe and boiling for about 3 minutes. Use a mesh strainer to pull it out and set aside, then bring the water back to boiling and start cooking your orecchiette (I used about 1/2 a box). Since that takes 11-14 minutes, start working on your sausage. I used fresh chicken sausage (about 1 lb), crumbled it out of the casing and started cooking. I added a bit of extra seasoning (oregano, minced garlic, dried parsley, and crushed red pepper) since I could tell it wasn’t as seasoned as typical Italian sausage. Once it was cooked through, I deglazed the pan with 1/2 c. of chicken stock (or white wine, but I didn’t have that handy). Let it reduce most of the way and then add the broccoli rabe into the pan along with a can of drained/rinsed white beans. Stir a bit then add the pasta and stir some more. The starchiness of the beans and pasta will work with the stock/wine and create a sauce of sorts. If it happens to seem at all dry, add a bit of pasta water. Pour it into a big bowl and toss with grated parmesan and lemon zest. [Serves 4.]
I love how the beans add a creamy texture to this pasta – no cream needed. It’s almost like having some ricotta in there, just way healthier. I mean, this ain’t a healthy dish, but it could be way worse. The sausage is made from chicken for cryin out loud. The real test was Albert. Like I said, this is favorite pasta so the stakes were high. I’m happy to say he liked it and I can breathe a sigh of relief.