Thursday, November 1, 2012

A New Favorite: Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe by Tom

Reheating our new favorite pasta dish

Over the past week or so, we had many opportunities to try different pasta dishes, as we were in New York City for a visit prior to Superstorm Sandy's arrival.  We ate in mostly Italian restaurants and tasted many mostly tomato-based pasta dishes.  They were all good, but we were still looking for a non-tomato based pasta.  This one is it!

This recipe comes courtesy of the cookbook "Canning for a New Generation".  A rather seemingly odd place to find an interesting pasta recipe.  This recipe is very simple to make and very tasty.  The key to this recipe is the orecchiette pasta, which you want to prepare al dente.  Although the recipe calls for broccoli rabe, I think substituting broccoli would work just as well.

Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe and Sausage
(serves 4)

1 pound dried orecchiette pasta
Kosher salt - to taste
1 to 1 1/2 pound sweet Italian ground sausage
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic - roughly chopped
1 cup chicken stock
Generous pinch of red pepper flakes - I used about a tablespoonful
1 quart-size (16oz) fresh or frozen broccoli rabe, thawed if frozen
Fresh ground pepper to taste
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Prepare the orecchiette pasta per the package instructions in a large pot of boiling water until almost al dente.  Once drained, it will go back into the large saute pan where the sausage and broccoli rabe is cooking, and the pasta will cook a little more to al dente.  That is why it is very important to not overboil the pasta.  Keep it truly just slightly less than al dente.

While the pasta is cooking, heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat.  Add the sausage and with a wooden spatula or spoon, break up the sausage into little chunks.  Saute until lightly browned and cooked through - about 5 minutes.  If there is a lot of fat in the pan, drain off the excess fat.

Next add the olive oil and the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for another 5 minutes.  The garlic should be soft. 

Now add the chicken stock and scrape the bottom of the pan to bring up any browned bits.  Add the red pepper flakes and broccoli rabe.  Cover the pan and cook until the broccoli rabe is very tender.  This will take anywhere from 6-8 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Drain the orecchiette pasta, and then add the pasta to the large saute pan.  Toss to combine and cook until the orchiette is now al dente.

Serve the mixture on a pasta plate and sprinkle generously with Parmesan cheese.

This is a good hearty meal.  Perfect for a cool fall day... after the ravages of Sandy had passed through.

---Tom

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