That was last week for me and the blitz of activity left me little time to cook, let alone eat something good for me. Lunch was reduced to a handful of jalapeño-flavored potato chips and half a curried tofu sandwich. Dinner was an even more embarrassing affair consisting of leftover boiled potatoes drizzled with olive oil and followed by gelato straight out of its paper container.
I was starting to feel like a human garbage disposal, and was yearning for a real meal, meaning something satisfying that was also quick and easy to put together.
Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe fit the bill perfectly as simple, rustic Italian seems to be my go-to cuisine when my belly is rumbling and my eyes are blinkered from low blood sugar.
One of the emblematic pastas of Puglia, orecchiette are thus named because they are supposed to resemble little ears. I don’t know about that, since they only look like ears to me if we’re talking (nerd alert!!!!) Ferengi ears. I do know that they are delicious and are perfectly shaped to cup little bits and pieces of chopped vegetables. The bitterness of broccoli rabe always goes well with savory sausage, garlic and red chili pepper flakes. To make this dish vegetarian, simply omit the sausage. It is very tasty that way as well.
As this is a very simple dish, I have given you proportions for two, even though I ate the two for one.
Yep, that’s how I roll in Hungry Town 😉
1/3 of a pound of orrechiette
1/2 pound of pork Italian sausage, casings removed
1/3 of a bunch of broccoli rabe, roughly chopped
3-4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
Red chili pepper flakes
Salt and pepper
How to prepare:
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook the pasta until it is al dente.
2. While the pasta is cooking, heat a little bit of olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, pinch off one-inch pieces of sausage and brown them in a single layer in the pan. When the sausage pieces are browned on all sides and cooked through, remove them to a paper towel-lined plate or bowl.
3. Drain the pasta, reserving about a 1/4 to 1/3 of a cup of the pasta water. Wipe out the skillet and add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan. Set the pan over medium heat and sauté the garlic slices until they are fragrant, about a minute or two. Add as many chili pepper flakes as you like and continue to sauté for about 30 more seconds. Be careful that the chili pepper flakes don’t burn. Add the chopped broccoli rabe and a little bit of the pasta water (you can always add more water later if the dish starts to look a little dry) to the pan. Cook the rabe until it begins to wilt. Add the sausage and the pasta, along with another splash or two of pasta water if needed. Toss and let everything cook together for another minute or two. The pasta should begin to absorb some of the sauce. Adjust the seasoning if needed.
Serve in large warmed bowls with an additional drizzle of olive oil.