By Carmel Karni — See the recipe
This is my inauthentic take on a well-known Italian classic recipe. The first time I ate something like this pasta was in Bacci and Abaracci, a long-gone Italian neighborhood restaurant in Brooklyn. I used to come back there again and again just for this one pasta dish. There was something so comforting about the sausage and broccoli rabe in a simple brothy sauce. It was like home in a bowl. After a while I realized that it was a dish I could easily recreate in my own kitchen. At that time Graham Ave in Williamsburg was teeming with Italian specialty food stores and you could get great fresh cavatelli and fantastic parmesan right down the street. There were times we ate this dish at least (!) once a week. A complete meal in one pan. Use the best ingredients you can for this recipe because it has so few. Cavatelli is hard to find, so use good short pasta such as orecchiette. Broccoli rabe is still king, but any assertive greens works.
Pasta with Sausage and Greens
- 1 lb short pasta (if you find Cavatelli or can make it, lucky you!)
- 8 cloves garlic, sliced thin
- A pinch of pepper flakes (optional)
- Olive oil
- 1 lb sausage (I like a sage sausage for this, but mild or spicy Italian works great too)
- 1 cup chicken broth or bean broth (it will give a nice thickness to your sauce) or any broth you have on hand. Don’t have broth?- use water.
- 1 large or 2 small bunches of broccoli rabe, kale, a combination of broccolini and kale or any other hardy green
- Parmesan cheese and olive oil for finishing the dish
Get a pot of water boiling for your pasta first and make sure to salt it liberally. In a large pan that could fit everything, heat a good glug of olive oil with the garlic and pepper (if using) until the garlic just begins to cook but hasn’t taken any color and then add the sausage. Break sausage up with your spoon into small chunks (I prefer them not too small) and cook until meat is browned. Add your broth to the pan and let it simmer a bit. Your water should be boiling by now. Cook your pasta.
When the pasta is halfway done, add the greens to the sausage pan. You want your greens cooked but still green when the pasta is ready. If you are using broccolini, wait until the pasta is almost done to add the florets to the pan. Taste and check for salt. Save a cup of pasta water and drain your pasta. Add the pasta to the pan with sausage and greens. If the mixture too dry, add some pasta water. Grate parmesan into the pan and add a bit of olive oil for richness. Mix. Taste. Repeat until you like it. Serve with additional parmesan to grate on top.