Broccoli di rabe is one of several tart, acidic, leafy greens that many Italian find particularly appealing. In this dish, the vegetables act as a near perfect foil for the rich sweetness of the sausage, while the neutral pasta mediates between the two.
This dish requires fairly precise timing, but with a little advance preparation, the sauce can be made while the ziti is cooking, and both should be ready at about the same time. The cooking time of dried pasta varies from 8 to 14 minutes, depending on it’s shape and quality, after the warm water returns to a boil. The ziti should be drained as soon as it’s al dente, even if the sauce isn’t quite finished by then. It will reheat sufficiently when combined with the sauce.
- ½ pound sweet Italian sausage
- 2 pounds broccoli di rabe
- 3 teaspoons coarse salt
- 1 pound ziti
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 3 large cloves garlic, crushed
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon hot pepper flakes
- 1 cup chicken stock
- ½ cup grated Parmigiano
Grill or broil the sausage in advance. When cooked, slice it thin and set aside. Wash and drain the broccoli di rabeand set it aside. In a large pot, put 10 quarts of water to a boil, with 3 tablespoons of coarse salt added, and immediately start preparing the sauce. Add the ziti to the pot when the water boils and cook until al dente. In a large, deep, heavy skillet with a fitted lid, heat the olive oil, add the garlic, and saute’, uncovered, until golden, about 2 minutes. Add the broccoli di rabe, ¼ teaspoon salt, and pepper flakes, cover, and steam 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the sausage. Add the butter and chicken stock, and cook over high heat, uncovered, about 3 minutes until the liquids are slightly reduced. Add the drained pasta to the sauce and toss gently. Sprinkle on half of the cheese, toss again, serve immediately, and distribute the remaining cheese over the pasta.