An oldie but goodie. I have some leftover broccoli di rapa from my seafood dinner (see previous post) and that was intentional–I’ve been looking forward to orrechiette with broccoli di rapa and sausage. This dish, a specialty from Apulia, can be varied in a few different ways.
First of all, any short, fat pasta can be substituted for the orrechiette–cavatelli, rigatoni, fusilli, etc.
I’m using sweet Italian sausage, but you can vary the type of sausage or use a cured or smoked variety of some sort (chorizo or andouille work beautifully). You can eliminate the sausage entirely and it makes a very elegant vegetarian dish.
You can saute some anchovies in the skillet with the garlic and then top the finished dish with toasted bread crumbs, instead of pecorino romano (Italians would never put grated cheese on something that had anchovy in it).
You can make the dish on the soupy side, or more on the oily side (I prefer the more oily version). If you seek to make it soupier, just add some additional pasta cooking liquid at the end and serve in bowls.
Although recipes for this dish abound, I’ll give you mine in case you simply want to look no further.
Orrechiette Sausage and Broccoli di Rapa
1 bunch broccoli di rapa, sliced crosswise into 1/2″ pieces (stems, leave, and all)
1 lb sweet Italian sausage
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and split in half
1 lb orrechiette
salt and black pepper
chili flakes, if desired
pecorino romano for sprinkling
Precook sausage by placing in boiling water and simmering for 10 -15 minutes (depending on how fat the sausage is). Drain and slice into 1/2″ rounds.
Chop and wash broccoli then let drain in colander.
In broad skillet, brown garlic pieces on low heat for about 10 minutes.
Add sausage disks to skillet with garlic and brown sausage for a few minutes over medium heat. Add broccoli and cover for about 8 minutes, lifting lid from time-to-time and stirring or shaking. Taste and add salt and black pepper.
Drop pasta in boiling salted water and continue sauteing the broccoli mixture on low heat while the pasta cooks, turning and stirring from time-to-time.
When pasta is cooked, fish it out with a spider or strainer and add it to the skillet with the broccoli mixture along with some cooking water. On high heat, saute for a minute or two.
Turn off heat and add a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and serve with pepper flakes and grated pecorino romano.
I made this last night and it was fantastic! I love the tip on boiling the sausage before browning it. I never had perfectly cut circles before. Thank you for sharing!
I’m so, so glad it came out well!! When my mother used to boil the sausage before using it as a component of a recipe, I always thought it was a wasted step, until I realized that it actually kept the sausage moister. After the sausage has been boiled, to brown it lightly in a skillet only takes a few minutes without worries of it being undercooked. In this way it stays moist inside. It also makes for a convenient way to freeze the sausage for later use).