wine night: orecchiette with sausage & broccoli rabe

Wahoo Wine Night time!
This is one of my mother-in-law's and my favorite meals.
We pretty much order it whenever it's on a menu.
I've made a few different versions of it before, but this is our go to recipe.

The broccoli rabe has the perfect bitter flavor - just enough bite.
Add in sausage, olive oil, and red pepper flakes and it is a simple and classic Italian dinner.
We had this with an Austrian-style dry white wine called Gruner Veltliner.  
It was a perfect counterpart to the bitterness of the broccoli rabe.

Make this for your Wine Night tonight!

Orecchiette with Sausage & Broccoli Rabe
Adapted from:  Gina's SkinnyTaste
Serves:  6

  • 2 bunches broccoli rabe, washed, dried, and thick part of stems removed, cut into quarters
  • 1 lb. sausage meat, casings removed (you can use pork, turkey, or chicken here - I used the pork sausage meat that comes already out of the casings. much easier).
  • 2 t. extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 t. crushed red pepper flakes (or more if you like it spicier)
  • 16 oz. orecchiette pasta (if you can't find orecchiette, use small shells)
  • 1 1/2 C. low sodium chicken stock
  • 1/2 C. grated Parmesan (I used reduced-fat version)
  • kosher salt
  • black pepper

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Once boiling, add handful of salt and broccoli rabe.  Blanch for 2 minutes.  Remove from water using a slotted spoon or spider into a colander.  Set aside to drain.
  2. Bring pot of water back up to a boil (it's best to use the same water that you blanched the broccoli rabe in; it will give the pasta some of that good flavor).  Add some more salt and cook pasta according to package directions, just shy of al dente.
  3. While pasta is cooking, heat a large saute pan over medium heat.  Once hot, add sausage and break up into small pieces while it cooks.  Once cooked completely, remove from pan with a slotted spoon keeping some of the drippings in the pan.  
  4. Increase heat to medium-high.  Add olive oil.  Once hot, add in garlic and red pepper flakes.  Cook until golden and fragrant, about 2 to 3 minutes (careful not to burn it!)
  5. Add broccoli rabe to garlic and oil mixture.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Cook one minute until broccoli rabe is nicely coated with olive oil.
  6. Add sausage to broccoli rabe/oil/garlic mixture and mix well.
  7. Drain pasta and add to broccoli rabe, reserving 1/4 c. pasta water.
  8. Reduce heat to medium.  Add chicken stock, pasta water, and Parmesan cheese.  Toss until combined. Cook for about a minute until some of the chicken stock is reduced.  Test for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if needed.
  9. Serve with extra red pepper flakes and Parmesan for topping.
Nutrition:  (using pork sausage and reduced fat Parmesan)
Calories:  526
Carbs:  62 g
Fat:  19 g
Protein:  26 g


{all photos by me}
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