Monday, March 16, 2009

Oriecchette with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe

I've been hesitant about posting this recipe, because honestly... I really didn't like it that much. It's rare for me to make something that completely falls short of my expectations since I know my own taste pretty well at this point, but this was sort of a bummer.

But, there's really nothing wrong with it... I think (and please, hold the "that's what she said" comments for this next statement!) that it was really just too much of a strong sausage-y dish for my taste. Hehe. Ok! Moving on...

My main motivation for trying this dish was that I have never cooked with broccoli rabe, and it seemed like a no-brainer. I love broccoli, greens, and pretty much anything remotely related to Italian cooking, so this hit the trifecta.

(that is a whole lot of broccoli rabe)

Oh- the recipe. I used Giada's recipe, but since I can't fathom using a turkey product when there could be pork involved, I used regular spicy Italian sausage.

(That's what she... no.)

First up, I washed and chopped a huge mess of the broccoli rabe, then gave it a quick bath in boiling salted water. So far, so good.

(veggie spa treatment)

Next up came the sausage, and then this recipe hit its first snag for me. Everywhere I looked, recipes for this dish asked for the sausage to be cooked with the casings "removed", and I quickly realized that this was no easy task. It's hard for me to get too grossed out cooking, but let's just say that dissecting sausage innards is not high on my favorite activities list now.

(sausage guts... yum)

I tried using this link as a reference guide, but... I wouldn't recommend it. This is not a process for the faint of heart!

Finally (or so it felt), the sausage dissection was complete and the recipe went easy enough from there. I sauteed the sausage innards (sorry, I can't stop dropping gross descriptions!) with garlic and red pepper flakes, and at the same time cooked the pasta in the broccoli rabe water. This was my first time cooking with oreiecchette- or "orecchiette", per the box, who knows- and it is a delicious, hearty pasta.

Once the sausage and pasta were done, you just get everything into the sausage skillet and mix it together with a bit of pasta water and Parmesan cheese.

So... it's a good dish, just not one that will make my "repeat over and over again" list. I think the sausage is a very strong flavor, and the equally strong, slightly bitter taste of the broccoli rabe seemed to fight with it instead of meld harmoniously like I'd envisioned. I think I'll experiment further with broccoli rabe, since that was my favorite part of the dish- any ideas would be very welcome!

  • 2 bunches broccoli rabe, stems trimmed
  • 1 pound orecchiette pasta
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound spicy Italian-style sausage, casings removed
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • Pinch dried crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Cook the broccoli rabe in a large pot of boiling salted water until crisp tender, about 1 minute. Transfer the broccoli rabe to a large bowl of ice water to cool, saving the cooking water. Bring the reserved cooking water back to a boil.

Heat the oil in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook, breaking it up into pieces with a spoon, until browned and juices form, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, and saute until fragrant, about 2 minutes.

Meanwhile, when the reserved cooking water is boiling, add the orecchiette and cook until al dente, tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes.

Drain the broccoli rabe and add it to the pan with the sausage mixture and toss to coat with the juices. Add the pasta to the skillet. Stir in the Parmesan and about 1/4 cup of the pasta water, and serve immediately.


  1. Omg that looks amazing! I'm definitely going to make this! Num num num.

  2. The sausage you used is already cooked and smoked. Removing the casing is only needed for links that are raw. Plus raw sausage is not yet smoked so it will give a milder sausage flavor. You might like it better that way.