I received at least half a dozen cookbooks for Christmas (yay!!) so that means there’s going to be a lot of experimenting going on in our kitchen this year. Last night I went out on a limb and tried a recipe from Giada’s Everyday Italian: 125 Simple and Delicious Recipes. I looooooove almost every one of her recipes that I’ve tried, so the reason I say “out on a limb” is because I made an Italian dish–moreover an Italian pasta dish–without sauce. While the concept isn’t completely foreign to me, it is to the Hubby. In fact, the Hubby’s favorite words are: “it needs more sauce.” He says this about everything, including some of my soups. He loves sauce like I love cheesecake. You get the picture. But much to my surprise he really, really liked this one. Shows you how much I know about him, huh?
But back to the dish…this recipe is really simple and easy. Perhaps that’s what makes it so good. The flavors are perfectly balanced (unless you buy sausage with the word “garlic” in it) and the three different textures contrast well. I ended up substituting a few things, but didn’t stray too far from the gist of the recipe.
First, I used Chicken Garlic sausage instead of Italian pork. Call me crazy but I can’t stand even the slightest hint of fennel, and fennel seeds are all over Italian sausage. Plus, I wanted to go a little leaner and chicken fit that bill better than pork. But let me warn you. If you buy Central Market’s Chicken Garlic sausage know that they really mean Chicken SUPER DUPER WARD OFF VAMPIRES GARLIC sausage. Before I cooked this I had the sausage wrapped in butcher paper and then wrapped in a plastic bag and I could still smell the garlic in my kitchen after closing the refrigerator door. Fortunately I had the good sense to nix the extra garlic that the recipe calls for.
Second, I also had to sub regular broccoli for the broccoli rabe. I really didn’t want to do this, but my gourmet market was fresh out of broccoli rabe, so I didn’t have much of a choice. I think this would have been better with BR, but eh whatcha gonna do? The regular broccoli worked well enough that in the future I would go back to it in a pinch.
Like all the other Giada recipes I’ve encountered this one was fantastic, so give it a try if you’re in the mood for something other than your standard spaghetti and meatballs with sauce. Never forget the sauce. Well…almost never.
Orecchiette with Spicy Sausage and Broccoli Rabe
2 bunches of broccoli rabe (or regular broccoli)
12 oz. of dried orecchiette pasta
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 lb. spicy pork sausage, casings removed
3 cloves of garlic, minced
Pinch of dried crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 c. of fresh grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
In a large pot, bring salted water to a boil. Add the broccoli and cook until tender crisp, about 1 minute. Strain the broccoli, reserving all the cooking liquid. Set the broccoli aside. Cook the orecchiette in the same pot of boiling salted water until tender, but still firm to the bite, stirring occassionally, about 8 minutes (or longer depending on your pasta). Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.
Meanwhile, in a large, heavy skillet, heat the oil over a medium flame. Add the sausage and cook, breaking up with a spoon until the sausage is brown and jucies form, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the broccoli and toss to coat. Add the pasta and enough reserved cooking liquid, 1/4 c. at a time, to moisten. Stir in the Parmesan cheese, salt to taste and black pepper.