Nothing speaks to me quite like this pasta dish. It has all the elements I seek in my food, from crunchy textures to aromatic slaps of roasted garlic! I've had many versions of this dish in Italian restaurants but have yet to taste one that pairs the umami of roasted garlic with the crunchy broccoli rabe and crumbled pork sausage.
For the roasted garlic: Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Stack three 12-by-12-inch sheets of foil on top of each other. Place the garlic cloves on the foil and pull up the sides to create a bowl. Pour in the oil and sprinkle in 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Pull up the sides to create a pouch and seal it so the oil doesn’t leak out. Place in the oven and roast for 12 minutes.
Remove from the oven and smash the garlic with a fork into a smooth paste. Set aside.
For the pasta: Fill a large saucepan with 3 quarts (12 cups) of water and add 2 1/4 teaspoons salt. Bring to a boil, then add the orecchiette and cook according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water.
Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over high heat for 2 minutes. Add the olive oil, sausage, red pepper flakes and 2 1/4 teaspoons salt, and cook, breaking up the sausage, until browned, about 5 minutes. Add the broccoli rabe, the cooking water and roasted garlic puree to the pan and stir vigorously.
Stir in the cooked orecchiette. Stir in the Parmesan and cook, stirring, until the sauce thickens and the Parmesan melts, about 1 minute. Divide between plates and enjoy.