Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe and Sausage

May 27, 2012
6 Ratings
Photo by Mark Weinberg
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

This is a very traditional dish from Italy's Puglia region, which is in the southern part of the country and the hot spot for culinary tours of Italy. The Puglians invented orecchiette, which means "little ears," and it's not uncommon to still see Italian nonnas (le nonne) making them by hand (a time-consuming task!). In Italian, this recipe is called "orecchiette con la cima di rapa e salsiccia." —Jenifer Mangione

Test Kitchen Notes

WHO: Jenifer Mangione Vogt is a PR and marketing professional in southern Florida.
WHAT: Your next weeknight dinner, courtesy of Puglia.
HOW: Ready two skillets. In one, cook Italian sausage in olive oil and garlic; in the other, cook—but do not overcook—broccoli rabe with olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, and butter. Mix the sausage and the greens with cooked orecchiette. Top with cheese.
WHY WE LOVE IT: While most pasta and sausage dishes rely on red pepper flakes for heat, this recipe aims for brightness instead; lemon juice provides that much-needed mid-autumn brightness and makes a weeknight pasta taste fresh and different. Little ears, big flavor. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 1/2 cup olive oil (the better the quality, the better the taste), divided
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped, divided
  • 1 pound Italian sausage, not in casings
  • 1 bunch of broccoli rabe, trimmed and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 packet (16 ounces) orecchiette, cooked as instructed and set aside warm
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano, to taste
  1. Divide the olive oil and the garlic between two separate deep, large frying skillets, one of which is stainless steel and the other of which has an accompanying cover or lid. In the stainless steel skillet, warm the olive oil and garlic on low gradually, then increase to medium heat.
  2. Add the sausage and cook according to your personal preference (I like mine really crispy).
  3. When the sausage is about 10 minutes away from where you want it to be, begin to heat the other pan with the garlic and olive oil to medium. After five minutes, add the broccoli rabe and cover for five minutes. Then add the butter, lemon juice, salt, and pepper and stir and cover for about another minute. You want to make sure you don’t overcook it. It needs to retain that bright green color, yet be tender enough to eat. One of the biggest mistakes novice (and sometimes even experienced) home chefs make is to overcook vegetables. Food is art, and overcooked green veggies are not appealing! So, if you’re unsure, set a timer for five minutes. At medium heat and in a covered pan, 5 to 7 minutes should get it right where you want it to be.
  4. When the broccoli rabe is done, add the sausage to the pan, then stir. Then add in the orecchiette and stir everything together, still on medium heat, for 3 to 5 minutes.
  5. Serve with freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano to taste.
  6. Please post below if you have questions or comments.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

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  • Jenifer Mangione
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6 Reviews

Happygoin May 1, 2019
This is one of my favorite winter comfort foods. I add a handful of yellow raisins to give a little pop of sweetness. It plays off the bitter of the broccoli rabe beautifully.
Meghan June 13, 2017
Flavors are bright and delicious--we couldn't get enough of this dish! Quick and easy--perfect for a weeknight. Adding this into our rotation!
Nick S. December 3, 2015
What is your reason for using two skillets? Why not cook the broccoli rabe in the same skillet as the sausage?
Jenifer M. January 25, 2016
Hi Nick, use two skillets so that the juice from the broccoli rabe doesn't ruin the crispiness of the sausage and so that the you don't overook the broccoli rabe by trying to do it in the same pot as the sausage (different cooking times).
George July 6, 2015
"Bunch" isn't a helpful measurement.
Jenifer M. January 25, 2016
Sorry, George, "bunch" is how broccoli rabe is sold in the market. Use about 3 cups (after it is trimmed and chopped) for each package of orecchiette.