- About 1 pound broccoli rabe, trimmed and cut intoÂ pieces
- ÂĽ cup olive oil, or more as needed
- 1 tablespoon chopped garlic, or more to taste
- ÂĽ teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds (optional)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- ÂĽ to Â˝ pound sweet or spicy Italian sausage (if usingÂ link sausage, squeeze it from the casing or cut it up aÂ bit)
- Â˝ cup white wine or water
- Â˝ pound dried orchiette, penne, ziti, or other cut pasta,Â preferably whole wheat
- Â˝ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
Iâ€™ve turned the way I cook pasta upside down: Instead ofÂ making 1 pound of pasta with 1 or 2 cups of sauce, I doubleÂ the sauce and cut the noodles in half. The benefit? MoreÂ vegetables, maybe a little meat or seafood for flavor, andÂ fewer refined carbohydrates. This may go againstÂ everything youâ€™ve learned about cooking pasta, but it tastesÂ wonderful, and it works with just about any recipe, exceptÂ those with heavy cheese or meat sauces. Orchiette with Broccoli Rabe is one of my favoriteÂ combinations: the slight bitterness in the broccoli rabe isÂ balanced by the sweetness of the fennel and sausageÂ along with a little dose of heat.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it. Boil theÂ broccoli rabe until itâ€™s crisp-tender, 3 to 5 minutes,Â depending on the size of your pieces. Scoop the broccoliÂ rabe out of the water with a slotted spoon or small strainerÂ and set it aside.
- Meanwhile, put the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.Â When the oil is hot, crumble the sausage into the pan, andÂ cook, stirring occasionally to break the meat into relativelyÂ small bits and brown it, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, redÂ pepper flakes, and fennel seeds if youâ€™re using them, andÂ sprinkle with salt and pepper. Continue cooking and stirringÂ for another minute or so. Add broccoli rabe and the liquidÂ and cook, mashing and stirring until the broccoli rabe isÂ quite soft, 2 or 3 minutes more. Turn the heat to low to keepÂ the sauce warm.
- Â Cook the pasta in the boiling water for about 5 minutesÂ before checking the first time. When the pasta is justÂ tender, but not quite done, drain it, reserving about a cup ofÂ the cooking water. Toss the pasta with the sauce, alongÂ with some of the pasta water to keep the mixture fromÂ drying out. Taste and adjust the seasoning and serveÂ immediately, with the Parmesan if you like.