Tips: Cook the broccoli rabe the night before and you'll be way ahead. Whatever you do, read the recipe through start to finish before you get started. It's a little out of the ordinary but relatively painless. Cook off the garlic and sausage up to one hour ahead and let it sit in the pan until you're ready to finish the dish.
- 1 pound broccoli rabe, trimmed of damaged leaves
- 1 pound orecchiette or other pasta noodle
- 2 tablespoons water
- 4 to 5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1/2 pound Italian sausage, cut into quarter-inch slices
- 1 cup coarse, seasoned bread crumbs, toasted, optional garnish
- Pecorino Romano or Parmesan, optional garnish
Cut the broccoli rabe into 3 to 4 inch pieces, discarding the stems. In a large pot of rapidly boiling water, blanch the broccoli rabe until tender and cooked through, about 5 to 6 minutes. Before you drain broccoli rabe, reserve 1 cup of cooking liquid. Drain and rinse the broccoli rabe with cold water until it has cooled off. Spread it out on a towel to finish draining.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling water according to package directions until al dente.
While the pasta is cooking, place 2 tablespoons of water into a cold skillet with garlic and sausage and then turn heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until garlic is golden and sausage is cooked through, about 5 to 7 minutes. Pour reserved broccoli water into pan with sausage.
When the pasta is cooked, drain it and place back in pot you cooked it in and season with salt. Pour sausage sauce over pasta and stir in cooked broccoli rabe. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve immediately.