ZITI WITH BROCOLLI RABE AND SAUSAGE
Broccoli rabe and sausage is a match made in heaven I think. They go well together with pasta, as a side dish or on a slices of toasted or grilled rustic bread. Broccoli rabe or Rapini, as it is known in Italy, has a slightly bitter taste. It resembles broccoli but doesn’t have a big head as broccoli does and many more leaves. It was unknown a decade or so ago in America when it was first planted in the Salinas Valley in California (famous also for artichokes among other things). It has now become a favorite for Americans and Italians alike. Try this and you’ll be speaking Italian in no time!
1/4 cup olive oil
3 large cloves garlic, crushed and peeled
3/4 pound dry ziti pasta
1/2 pound sweet Italian sausage, meat removed from casings and crumbled
1-1/2 pounds brocolli rabe, cleaned and cut into bite size pieces
1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
3/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Heat the olive oil in a large, deep, heavy skillet with a fitted lid, then toss in the garlic and sauté, uncovered, until golden—about 2 minutes.
Bring a large pot of salted water (should taste like the sea) to a rolling boil. When you are ready and the water is boiling, add the ziti to the pot and cook until al dente.
Meanwhile, add the sausage meat to the oil and garlic, and cook, stirring, until golden, about 5 minutes. Add the broccoli rabe, 1 cup or so pasta-boiling water, salt to taste and the pepper flakes; cover, and steam 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Cook the sauce uncovered over high heat for about 3 minutes, until the liquids are slightly reduced. Drain the pasta, add it to the sauce, and toss gently. Sprinkle on half of the cheese, toss again, and distribute the remaining cheese over the pasta. Serve immediately.