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Pasta con Salsiccia e Cime di Rapa

Sounds so fancy but it’s really pasta with sausage and broccoli rabe. The Italian name for this broccoli is rapini. It is widely used in the cuisine of Rome as well as Southern Italy, particularly in the regions of Sicily, Calabria, Campania, Puglia.  In Italian, rapini is called cime di rapa or broccoletti di rapa; in Naples, the green is often called friarielli.  Here in the U.S. we call it Broccoli Rabe. It’s not too hard to find, even here in here south, but it can be hit or miss. I added to tomatoes to mine even though the authentic recipe does not call for them.  Also rather than use pasta water, I used a bit of chicken stock for a richer flavor.

You will need:

1 bunch broccoli rabe (rapini)

2 cups cherry tomatoes sliced in half

12 ounces short pasta

Extra virgin olive oil

1 lb Italian sausage sweet or spicy

4 large garlic cloves finely chopped

1/2 tsp Calabrian chili peppers or 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

1/2 cup chicken stock

Salt and pepper to taste

Grated pecorino

First, wash rapini, submerge in a large bowl of water. Swoosh it around to dislodge all dirt and debris. Lift out rapini and transfer to a colander to drain then coarsely chop. Heat a large pot of salted water to boil. Add rapini and cook 1 minute (working in batches if necessary); transfer rapini to colander to drain. Return water to boil. Add pasta to boiling water and cook according to package directions until al dente (tender, but firm to the bite) and drain. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add sausage and brown, breaking up with a spoon, 6 to 8 minutes. Add garlic and chili peppers or flakes, cook and stir until garlic is fragrant and golden, drop in sausage,  brown, break up with a spoon cooking for about 6 minutes, then place the tomatoes in,  and chicken stock, stir well. Cook until the tomatoes start to soften. Toss in broccoli rabe stirring to coat. Add pasta stirring, adding reserved cooking liquid a few tablespoons at a time as needed until you’ve reached a nice consistancy. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve in pasta bowls, drizzle with a little more olive oil, and top with lots of grated pecorino.

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