Eric Guido's Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe and Sausage

A simple pasta showcase for bitter greens

 


As a child, I never understood bitter vegetables. Maybe it has something to do with our developing taste buds, or maybe it’s that we’re simply not subjected to enough bitter flavors in our youth. Whatever the case may be, as a child, whenever my family would eat radicchio, escarole or broccoli rabe, I would cringe and turn up my nose. In fact, it wasn’t until I was working in a restaurant, in my late twenties, that I truly developed a taste for bitter greens -- and it was this dish, Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe and Sausage, that turned my head.

It is a simple preparation, made as most Italian foods are, with the best fresh ingredients, cooked in a style that does not rob them of their flavor or unique characteristics. It’s a dish that seduces your palate with contrasting flavors that somehow come together to please the palate. It showcases its spicy, bitter flavors against a butter and wine sauce. Add to that a bit of salty pecorino over the pasta, and you have perfection in simplicity.
As for the wine, this dish pairs best with crisp whites, due to the bitterness of the greens and light nature of the sauce. However, due to its spicy character and earthy roots, you can also get away with Italian reds that lean toward a balance of acidity, such as a Barbera. I chose a wine a little off the beaten path from the north-eastern tip of Italy, in a region named Valle d’Aosta. The wines from this region hail from high elevations, as the area is literally surrounded by the Alps, which give them the exact balance of structure and acidity that I crave for this pairing.

The 2006 Torrette was stunning in the glass, with a deep vibrant red color and a nose of ginger cookie, violets, cracked pepper and red fruit. On the palate, I found soft raspberry flavors that were juicy yet turned slightly bitter toward the finish and left me with a flavor of toasty rue. This wine was wonderfully refreshing against the orecchiette and accentuated the dish’s rich and spicy characteristics.

Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe and Sausage

Serves 4

Ingredients
1 bunch of broccoli rabe, washed with stems trimmed
olive oil, as needed
1 ½ pounds sausage, mix of hot and sweet according to preference and sliced into bite-size pieces
1 pound of orecchiette
¼ tsp hot pepper flakes 
1 shallot, fine dice
½ cup white wine, preferably Italian
4 tbls butter, cubed
½ cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Tip: My recipe will tell you to cut the sausage into bite-size pieces. However, another method that delivers excellent results is to peel the casing from the sausage and crumble it into bite-size pieces.

Technique
1) Bring two large pots of seasoned water to a boil -- one for the pasta and one for the broccoli rabe. Prepare an ice bath in a bowl on the side.

2) Add the broccoli rabe to the boiling seasoned water for 3 to 4 minutes or until nearly cooked and vibrant green. Now, remove the broccoli rabe from the pot (do not pour out the water) and place into the ice bath. Allow it to cool for one minute, then drain and set to the side. Reserve one cup of the cooking water for later in the recipe.

3) In a large sauté pan over medium flame, add enough light olive oil to barely cover the bottom of the pan. Allow the oil to heat and add the sausage. Cook the sausage and once it has browned on the first side, turn to the other side to continue cooking.

4) At this time you can also add the pasta to the water set aside to boil the pasta and set your timer for one minute short of the recommended cooking time.

5) Once the sausage has browned on both sides, add the red pepper flakes and the shallots. Lower the heat to medium low, and allow them to sweat for 1 to 2 minutes.

6) Raise the heat back to medium and add the wine. Make sure to scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen up any bits of the sausage that have stuck to the bottom. When the wine has reduced by half, add the cup of reserved cooking water and the broccoli rabe to the pot. Continue to cook and reduce the sauce for 1 to 2 minutes, then turn off the flame and add the butter, stirring lightly to combine.

7) The pasta should be done around this time. Strain it, toss it with extra virgin olive oil and return it to the empty pot. Sprinkle with half of the grated Pecorino Romano cheese and stir. Now pour the entire contents of the saucepan over the pasta and turn the fame to low. Stir lightly for one minute to bring the entire contents of the pot together. Taste for seasoning, and add salt and pepper as needed.

8) Plate and serve with a sprinkle of Pecorino Romano over each plate.

Meet Chef Eric Guido
After working in the New York City restaurant scene, Eric Guido branched out, organizing private dining and tasting events centered around Italian cuisine and wine. Here he began to incorporate food photography and recipe development.  His continuing work can be seen at www.theviptable.net. Eric’s passion for food and wine is fueled by the togetherness and satisfaction found at the table.

Mentioned in this article

Comments

  • Snooth User: vini
    89620 5

    Poetry...& Yum.

    Nov 19, 2010 at 7:37 PM


  • Snooth User: tanyagio
    127364 1

    Need to create a print version- printing this wastes paper

    Nov 20, 2010 at 8:21 AM


  • Snooth User: Eric Guido
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    92549 162,792

    They usually include a PDF version of each recipe when they publish my work but I don't see one here. if you like, I could e-mail it to you in a word doc.

    Nov 20, 2010 at 9:30 AM


  • Snooth User: kme2010
    482454 14

    Paper-saving print technique? Just copy and paste into a "new message" email the portions of the article or recipe which you wish to print. In your email [to yourself] "select all" and use your format options to choose "plain text". Voila. That should convert the entire thing to an economically printable format. You can choose to print that, right then, and just delete the email, or -- what I do -- put the recipe title details in the subject line and send it to yourself. I keep my recipes in a series of folders in my mail app. PS: Before printing -- don't forget to ALSO copy/paste the http LINK, which (a) lets you easily go back to the original recipe if you need to, and (b) makes certain you've CREDITED the recipe source, when your friends say, WOW, you MADE THAT? Send me the recipe!

    Nov 20, 2010 at 9:53 AM


  • Snooth User: Catherine Gin
    Hand of Snooth
    592568 297

    As Eric noted, we have been including a downloadable pdf of all his recipes in the past when published on Snooth.com.

    We are definitely going to be adding the downloadable pdf feature to our shiny new WhatsCook.in site as soon as possible -- hopefully by Monday, so please check back then.

    @kme2010, that's a great idea to keep all your recipes as e-mails and file them in your inbox!

    Nov 20, 2010 at 4:36 PM


  • Snooth User: lchevy
    635978 6

    you can just do a "print preview" and then only print page #2. That's the page with the ingredients and instructions.

    Nov 21, 2010 at 2:01 PM


  • Snooth User: tatwood
    375000 3

    Select, copy, paste into Word.

    Nov 22, 2010 at 8:10 AM


  • I simply copied the recipe and dropped into MasterCook 9, simple and easy...took less than 10 minutes including all the editing to remove extraneous stuff.

    Jim

    Nov 22, 2010 at 1:05 PM


  • Snooth User: Catherine Gin
    Hand of Snooth
    592568 297

    Thanks for the suggestions everyone. We've updated the site so you can now download the recipe as a pdf. Enjoy!

    Nov 22, 2010 at 4:36 PM


  • Snooth User: napagirl68
    Hand of Snooth
    87843 2,666

    Agree with the thought about bitter greens and youth.. I suspect it is a protective mechanism of sorts from the caveman days.. prevents little ones from eating poisonous plants.

    In addition, I think it depends upon how our mothers (or caregivers) cooked. I always HATED mushrooms, because my mother always cooked with CANNED mushrooms.. yuck! slimy! Of course, I am far beyond that now, and love mushrooms. And so does my daughter who is 6.

    Nov 28, 2010 at 12:02 AM


  • Snooth User: Eric Guido
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    92549 162,792

    One common thing I find are a lot of people who don't "think" they like mushrooms. It's sad to think that it's probably because no one ever really prepared them well for the person.

    I would say that every parent should include mushrooms in the foods that they introduce to their children. Bravo to you for expanding their palates.

    I always tell people, mushrooms are a vehicle for flavor.

    Nov 28, 2010 at 8:42 AM


  • Snooth User: swartzd
    628464 2

    Excellent recipe!

    Dec 02, 2010 at 6:23 AM


  • Snooth User: ddorsch1
    308877 264

    Great recipe…had it last week in a local Italian restaurant here. Was super. Nice to have it for review. Wonder how it would be with mushrppms…hmmm. BTW I use MacGourmet and just copy to recipe page, pic and all.

    Dec 10, 2010 at 8:46 PM


  • This is one of my very favourite recipes. Lidia Bastianich did it on her PBS show a few years ago and it's become a permanent part of my culinary repertoire.

    I do somewhat disagree with Mr. Guido's comment about mushrooms being a vehicle for flavor because in many dishes, they actually are the key flavor. I couldn't imagine a morel or porcini, amongst others, being considered a vehicle to carry the flavour of other ingredients when they have marvelous flavour in their own right... and especially when they cost as much as they do.

    Mar 09, 2011 at 6:40 PM


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