Pasta with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe is a classic, easy Italian dish. Feel free to swap out the broccoli rabe for regular broccoli, broccolini or even a dark leafy green, such as kale.
How to Cook Broccoli Rabe
There are two basic methods I’ve learned to clean and cook broccoli rabe. One is a little more restaurant style, so I’m showing you the easier way today!
To start, I simply cut off the bottom 2-3 inches of the rough, thicker stems.
I like to blanch the broccoli rabe in boiling water for one minute, and then drain and rinse them under cold water, or place in an ice water bath until cooled. This step will preserve the green color.
If you’re serving the broccoli rabe as a side dish, I would keep them whole and saute them garlic and red pepper flakes, season them with salt, and call it a day.
Substitutions in Pasta with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe
Pasta with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe is a simple recipe with simple ingredients, but I like to switch things up depending on what I have on hand.
Below are some ideas to switch up this recipe using different ingredients.
- If you don’t like broccoli rabe or cant find it, simply use regular broccoli. You can also make this recipe with broccolini or dark leafy vegetables, such as kale. See the recipe notes for more info!
- If you can’t find orecchiette pasta, rigatoni, mezzi rigatoni or farfalle are great alternatives. Basically any short pasta works well.
- For a healthier option, try turkey sausage.
- For more fiber, try whole wheat or chickpea pasta.
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Pasta with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe is a classic, easy Italian dish. Depending on what you can find at the store and your personal preferences, feel free to use regular broccoli, broccolini or a dark, leafy green, such as kale, instead of broccoli rabe.
- 1 bunch broccoli rabe, bottom 2-3 inches of stem trimmed*
- 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, or as needed, divided
- 8 oz Italian pork sausage, removed from casing (sweet or spicy would work)*
- ½ lb orecchiette, rigatoni or bow tie pasta
- 2 medium cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 2 pinches hot red pepper flakes (optional)
- ¼ cup freshly grated parmigiano reggiano (parmesan) cheese, plus more for serving
- Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper
- Blanch & chop broccoli rabe: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add broccoli rabe to boiling water, and blanch for one minute. Remove with tongs, reserving water in the pot, and transfer to a colander in the sink. Rinse with cold water until cool. Pat dry. Chop into ½ to 1-inch pieces.
- Brown sausage: Warm a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add one tablespoon of oil, followed by sausage in a single layer, and cook undisturbed for about 5-8 minutes or until well-browned. Flip over and break up into small chunks. Continue to cook for 3-5 minutes or until browned on both sides and mostly cooked through. Remove from pan and set aside. Reserve excess oil in pan and turn off heat.
- Cook pasta: Bring water in the pot used to cook broccoli rabe back to a boil, and season generously with salt. The water should taste like sea water. Add pasta and cook until about 1 minute short of al dente. Drain, reserving a cup of water.
- Add garlic and broccoli rabe: As pasta cooks, add sliced garlic and red pepper flakes to pan used to brown sausage. Add additional oil as needed, so there is approximately ¼ cup of oil in the pan, including the sausage fat. Turn heat to medium. Cook about 30-60 seconds or until garlic starts to sizzle, making sure to avoid burning. Add in chopped broccoli rabe, and season with salt and pepper.
- Toss: Add cooked pasta and reserved sausage to pan with broccoli rabe and toss to combine over medium heat. Add remaining 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil to pasta, as needed, for flavor and moisture. Add ¼ cup of pasta water to pan and grated cheese, and stir to combine. Allow sauce to thicken, adding more water if needed to reach desired consistency. Taste an adjust seasoning, as needed.
- Serve: Portion pasta into serving bowls. Top with a drizzle of olive oil, more grated cheese and a little bit of black pepper, as desired. Enjoy.
You can easily double this recipe to serve more people. I like to go heavy on the broccoli rabe, but one large bunch or 2 smaller bunches will suffice for 1 pound of pasta.
If you don’t want to use broccoli rabe, substitute with a head of broccoli, a couple small bunches of broccolini or a dark, leafy green such as kale.
If using broccoli or broccolini, boil in water for about 3-5 minutes, or until fork tender.
If you’re using kale, there’s no need to boil it. Just add it in the pan after the garlic cooks with about a tablespoon or two of pasta cooking water, and saute it about 5 minutes or until tender before adding the pasta to the pan.
For a healthier version, try turkey or chicken sausage instead. I even use whole grain or chickpea pasta instead of regular pasta sometimes.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Category: Pasta
- Method: Saute
- Cuisine: Italian
- Serving Size: ⅓ of pasta
- Calories: 670
- Sugar: 2g
- Sodium: 550mg
- Fat: 37g
- Saturated Fat: 8g
- Unsaturated Fat: 29g
- Trans Fat: 0g
- Carbohydrates: 60g
- Fiber: 3g
- Protein: 25g
- Cholesterol: 28mg
Keywords: pasta with sausage and broccoli rabe, pasta with sausage and broccoli, orecchiette with sausage and broccoli rabe, orecchiette with sausage and broccoli