This recipe is one of my all-time favorites because it takes me back to our very first Anniversary when TJ suprised me and whisked me away for an awesome vacation in San Fransisco. Everything about the trip was a dream. Our Anniversary dinner was spent in Union Square’s famed Scala’s Bistro where I had this dish for the first time. I came home after that trip and have spent the last couple years perfecting what I tasted that night.
Orrechiette (“little ears”) is the perfect pasta for this recipe because it’s a sturdy pasta that sops up the wonderful flavors of the sauce. The cheese and italian sausage are great counter parts to the bitterness that rapini lends.
Tip: Feel free to sub the chicken stock for white wine for a slightly different flavor, or use mild italian sausage. I have also seen many use bread crumbs as a garnish folded in at the end for an added texture.
3 tablespoons salt
2 bunches rapine, coarsely chopped
1 pound orrecchiette
3 hot Italian sausage links, casings removed
2 tablespoons olive oil
3-4 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/2-1 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano
Bring a large pot of water to a boil with the salt. Add the broccoli rabe and cook for 4 to 6 minutes, or until slightly soft. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Return the same pot of water to a boil, add the orecchiette and cook until almost al dente. Drain, reserving the cooking water.
Split the sausages lengthwise down the middle and remove from their casings.
Heat the olive oil in a high-rimmed skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and saute for 1-2 minutes. Add Italian sausage, breaking it up as finely as possible. Add the rapine and orrechiette with 1/2 cup chicken stock to develop the sauce, adding more as you see necessary.
Finish cooking the pasta in the sauce, being careful it doesn’t stick. You may have to keep adding a little pasta water, additional stock until the pasta is al dente.
Finish the pasta by folding in the cheese.