Pasta With Broccoli Rabe via Arthur Schwartz

This was my Dad’s favorite pasta. Served with sweet and hot sausage.

Arthur Schwartz writes:

“This ranks up there with pasta and beans, and pasta and potatoes in the pantheon of Campanian comfort dishes…….in this traditional version, the broccoli rabe is tamed by blanching, then cooked as usual with olive oil, garlic, and hot red pepper, while the pasta cooks in the bitter vegetable water….”

Ingredients:

One large bunch of broccoli rabe, prepared as below
1 pound pasta (Schwartz calls for Orecchiette, but I prefer Penne.)
Freshly ground pecorino or Parmesan

Directions:

1. Prepare broccoli rabe as follows, BUT reserve the water:

1 bunch broccoli rabe (about 1lb)
2-3 Tbs olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, lightly smashed
Big pinch hot red pepper flakes

Trim thick stems from broccoli rabe and cut into 1-inch pieces. Blanch in a large pot of boiling water, about 5 min., until bright green and slightly wilted. Drain. Reserve water.

Meanwhile, combine oil, garlic and pepper flakes in a large skillet over medium heat until garlic is fragrant. Press garlic into oil to release flavor; remove large pieces.

Add broccoli and toss well to coat with oil; salt to taste. Cook over medium/medium-low heat until tender, about 10-15 minutes.

2. Cook the pasta in the reserved vegetable water.

3. When the pasta is almost al dente, scoop out about 1 cup of the pasta cooking water. Turn the pasta into a pan with the broccoli, and toss well, thinning out the sauce slightly, if necessary, with a few spoons of cooking water.

4. Serve hot with the grated cheese.

I always serve this with sausage, which I first gently simmer in water and then brown in olive oil.