It actually rained in California last week and we were having a cold spell. This pasta was so warming and so satisfying and so fit the mood we were in because of the rare weather pattern, we were mildly competing over the leftovers. Broccoli rabe is in season in spring so hopefully you can grab the last of the season at the farmers market and make this delicious dish! It does take a bit of time to prepare, an hour or so, so you'll want to do it when you have the time. As always, for best results, read the recipe all the way through first before attempting it. Have all ingredients and cookware you will need out and ready to be used.
Broccoli Rabe with Sausage, Pasta and Beans
Makes 4 very hearty servings
12 - 16 ounces broccoli rabe, ends trimmed*
1 15 ounce can cannelli beans, drained and rinsed
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 6-8 ounce uncooked, regular or gluten free mild Italian chicken sausage, casing removed
1 6-8 ounce uncooked, regular or gluten free hot Italian chicken sausage, casing removed
5 ounces regular or gluten free pasta (Orecchiette or small shells work well)
1/2 - 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (according to your hot and spicy preference)
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
*Broccoli rabe is often sold in bunches of various weights at both farmers markets and grocery stores which is why we give you a range in this recipe. The recipe works equally well with 12 ounces of rabe as it does with 16 ounces of rabe.
Fill a large pot 3/4 full of water, add 1 teaspoon salt, and bring to a rolling boil. Add 1/3 to 1/2 of the broccoli rabe. Cook for 2-3 minutes, until the stems are just tender. Using tongs or a wire-mesh skimmer, remove the broccoli rabe to a colander, rinse with cold water. Drain. Squeeze to remove excess water. Repeat until all broccoli rabe has been blanched. Set aside.
Keep the pot full of water at a low boil to cook the pasta.
Heat a fry pan over medium-low heat, erring on the side of low. Add the olive oil and the garlic. Stir constantly to flavor the oil while avoiding burning the garlic. Cook one minute. Add the red pepper flakes. Stir to incorporate. Add the sausages and break it up with a couple of wooden spoons (my husband, Brian, calls this the "choppy, choppy" method) until fully cooked.
Cook the pasta according to the manufacturer's directions.
While the pasta is cooking, roughly chop the broccoli rabe and add it and the beans to the sausage. Continue to cook over medium-low heat so the garlic doesn't burn and the broccoli rabe does not overcook. Stir occasionally.
When the pasta is finished cooking, reserve one cup of pasta cooking water in a heat-proof measuring cup. Then drain the pasta. Place the empty pot that was used to cook the pasta back on the stove over no heat. Add the remaining one tablespoon of olive oil and swirl it around the pot. Add the pasta and stir to coat with the olive oil. Add the broccoli rabe mixture and stir. Sprinkle the Parmesan over the top and stir to evenly distribute. If it is looking dry, add the reserved pasta cooking water a little bit at a time. This creates a creaminess with the cheese and the beans. It is unlikely you will need all of the reserved pasta water. If the pasta mixture is no longer hot, gently reheat for a couple of minutes over medium heat. Serve while warm, passing extra Parmesan at the table if you would like.