Pasta with Sausage & Double Broccoli Rabe

Broccoli Rabe Pesto

Exciting news here, I am soon to be working with a great restaurant that happens to be in my neighborhood on a feature to appear in print!  I’m currently working with the same publisher on a few digital projects, but the print piece will be a first for me and having wanted to be a magazine contributor since high school, I am really excited.  I can’t wait to share the feature once it’s published, but the meantime I wanted to share our version of a favorite dish at said restaurant.  If anyone can use this clue to name the place, I’ll meet you there and drinks are on me!!

This is an easy to make dish and I think the way I’ve laid out the steps creates an efficient workflow.  It’s a great way to get plenty of greens while digging into a hearty helping of pasta – I hope you enjoy!

Time: 35 minutes

Hands-On Time: 35 minutes

Kitchen Equipment: Large pot, large sauce pot or frying pan, measuring cups and spoons, cutting board, sharp knife, colander, large mixing bowl, smaller mixing bowl, blender or food processor.

Servings: 2 or 3 depending on hunger!

Broccoli Rabe Pesto

Ingredients: 

– 2 Bunches Broccoli Rabe, separated, twist-tie or rubber band left on

– 3 Garlic Cloves

– 1 Small Onion, finely diced

– 1 Tsp Salt

– 1/2 Lb. Sweet Italian Sausage

– 1 Cup Chicken Stock

– 1/3 Cup Freshly Grated Parmesan

– 4-5 Tablespoons Olive Oil

– Pasta of your choice – shapes recommended to catch the sauce!

Steps:

1.) Prep for Pesto:

– Roast the garlic – wrap the cloves loosely in foil, roast at 300 Degrees F for 10-15 minutes

– Meanwhile, prepare the rabe:  Set a large pot of water to boil, and place a large bowl of ice water to the side of the stove top.  Place one bunch of the rabe into boiling water.  The end of the stems should be just above the surface of the water.  Leave the twist-tie or rubber band *on* the stems to keep the stalks organized and easy to manage.  After 4-5 minutes, remove the rabe and place immediately in the prepared ice bath, using an oven mitt if necessary to protect your hand.  (Lifting the entire bunch out of the water at once is a 5-second affair if the stalks are left bound together.  Removing the rubber band necessitates fishing out individual stalks or straining it all into a colander, which murders time!)

– Swish the bunch of rabe back and forth in the ice water a few times to stop it from cooking (so it will remain al dente and more flavorful).  Set the cooled rabe in a colander in the sink.

– Repeat with the second bunch.

– Set up your food processor or blender and clear a small workspace.

– Remove garlic from the oven & discard the foil.  Oven off.

2.) Prep the Sausage:

– In a large frying or saucepan, heat 4 tsp olive oil over medium heat.

– Add the diced onion and cook over medium heat.

– When the onions are translucent, but not yet brown, add the sausage.  Squeeze the filling through the casing, and break the meat up into even smaller, evenly sized pieces in the pan with the side of a wooden spoon.

– Saute the sausage until it’s browned throughout.

– Then, add the chicken stock and cook over medium-low heat until almost all of the stock is evaporated, about ten minutes.  As the sausage and stock cook, begin work on the pesto.

3.) Make the Pesto:

– Add the roasted garlic and three tbsp olive oil to the processor or blender.  Pulse until garlic is pulverized, 3-4 times.  Turn the machine off, then scrape the garlic-oil mixture town the sides back towards the blade.

– Take one of the two bunches of rabe from the colander and squeeze out any remaining water.  (The bunch will be surprisingly smaller as you gently squeeze the water out – it’s just packed together and will spring back out on the cutting board.)  Chop off the thick part of the stems and discard.  Chop the bunch 2-3 times and add to the processor/blender with the tsp of salt.

– Using a low speed, combine the ingredients until mixed but not emulsified or pureed.  If necessary, turn off machine again and scrape the ingredients back towards the blade once during mixing process.

– Set the rabe-garlic-oil mixture in a mixing bowl and add the grated Parmesan.

Note about this step: This step is followed by a quick grind of the cooked sausage in the same processor or blender you’ve just used.  If you happen to have the sausage cooked before the rabe, do not blend first.  The fats from the sausage will make the broccoli rabe stick together and blend poorly.

4.) Finish the Sausage:

– When the chicken stock is almost entirely evaporated, kill the heat and add the sausage mixture to the blender or processor.  Pulse 2-3 times to create a finer crumble.

– Add the sausage mixture to the pesto and stir throughly to evenly incorporate.

5.) Finish the Dish:

– Bring enough water to completely cover your pasta to a boil.

– Meanwhile, remove the other bunch of rabe from the colander, squeeze and trim.  Coarsely chop the bunch and set aside.

– Add pasta and cook according to suggesting cooking time for type of pasta.

– Drain the pasta into the same colander, reserving some of the pasta water (by putting the emptied ice-water bowl under the colander).

– Return the pasta to the pot and mix in the Rabe-Sausage pesto.  Then, add the second batch of rabe, stirring gently to mix throughout.

– If necessary, add a bit of the reserved pasta water, a tablespoon at a time, to dilute the sauce so that it better coats the pasta.

Serve with a little more Parmesan, plus salt & pepper to taste.

Pasta with Broccoli Rabe & Pesto

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