This easy recipe for Chick Pea Pasta with Sausage + Broccoli Rabe is a healthy and satisfying dinner that can be on the table in 20 minutes!
Orecchiette with sweet Italian sausage and broccoli rabe is a classic southern Italian pasta dish that’s been a favorite of mine for years. I love the way the little round “ear” shaped pieces of pasta scoop up the flavorful sauce made with little bits of browned Italian sausage and a tender pieces of pleasantly bitter broccoli rabe. Are you a broccoli rabe fan? It’s a pretty common vegetable here in New Jersey, but I’ve come to realize it’s anything but in many other parts of the country.
A bunch of broccoli rabe looks like long, thin stalks of broccolini flecked throughout an abundance of dark, leafy greens. Although it carries the name broccoli, the flavor is considerably different. Broccoli rabe (pronounced “rob”), also known as rapini, actually isn’t related to broccoli at all. It’s more closely related to turnips, which explains its distinct bitterness. If you can’t find broccoli rabe, this recipe would be great with a bitter, leafy green such as mustard or turnip greens, or even kale.
The greens must first be blanched in order to rid them of some of their bitterness. You can do this right in the same water you boil the pasta, saving you on both time and dishes. The broccoli rabe will still have that distinctly bitter flavor, but it will be significantly tamed, and makes a wonderful pairing for the sweet Italian sausage.
The sausage should have some pieces of fennel seed in it, but if it doesn’t, you may want to add some in while it cooks. It adds such a wonderful depth of flavor that I find essential with Italian sausage, but it’s totally your call.
I was really crushed by the whole no pasta thing since I’ve been trying out this gluten free diet, but a friend turned me on to this new gluten free pasta that’s made entirely from chick pea flour. I gave it a reluctant try and was honestly floored at how good it was.
Does it taste exactly like regular pasta? No, it doesn’t. But it has a satisfying texture and a neutral flavor and it manages to curb my craving perfectly. Also, considering it’s a bazillion times healthier than regular pasta, it’s a total win. Unfortunately they don’t make it in an orecchiette shape (yet), but any short shape, like the cavatappi I used, or rigatoni or shells, will work.
Even if I wasn’t on a gluten free diet, I would eat this chick pea pasta anyway. It’s very satisfying and is so much healthier than wheat pasta, making it ideal for weeknight meals. You can, of course, make this recipe with traditional wheat pasta, but I find this particular sauce pairs especially well with the chick pea pasta. I think you’ll be quite satisfied with the results either way.
This has been one of my favorite weeknight dinner recipes lately because it’s so quick and easy to throw together. It’s super healthy, and yet is still every bit as warm and comforting as a bowl of pasta should be.
One Year Ago: Slow Roasted Salmon with Orange and Fennel
Two Years Ago: Meyer Lemon Baked Doughnuts
Three Years Ago: Lightened Up Creamed Spinach | Pomelo Bars | Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Quick Pickled Carrots + Puffed Rice Noodles
Four Years Ago: My Mama’s Fish Chowder | Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Fish Sauce Vinaigrette
This easy recipe for Chick Pea Pasta with Italian Sausage + Broccoli Rabe is a healthy and satisfying dinner that can be on the table in 20 minutes!
- 1 lb sweet Italian sausage (removed from casing)
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed
- pinch of red chili flakes (optional)
- salt, as needed
- 1 bunch broccoli rabe, cut into 1-inch pieces
- ½ lb short-shaped chick pea pasta (such as cavatappi, rigatoni or shells)
- ¼ cup finely grated parmesan or pecorino Romano cheese, plus more for serving
- extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
- finely chopped fresh parsley (optional)
- Bring a large pot of water up to a rolling boil.
- While the water heats, start cooking the sausage. Break it up in a large skillet over medium-high heat. You can use a wooden spoon or spatula, but I find a potato masher works best.
- Add the garlic cloves and chili flakes (if using), then cook until the sausage is nicely browned.
- When the water is boiling, season generously with salt then add the broccoli rabe. Cook until al dente, about 2 minutes, then use a spider or handheld strainer to remove it from the water.
- Drain the broccoli rabe well, then add it to the pan with the sausage and stir to combine. Let simmer over very low heat.
- Add the chick pea pasta to the water (make sure it’s still at a rolling boil), stir, then cook according to package directions until al dente.
- Reserve a cup or two of pasta cooking water, then drain and rinse under cold water.
- Add the pasta to the pan with the sausage and broccoli rabe, turn up the heat and toss until well combined. Add pasta water a few splashes at a time along with the parmesan cheese, then continue tossing until it creates a nicely thickened sauce.
- Spoon pasta into bowls, then drizzle each with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle with parsley. Serve hot with more parmesan cheese for sprinkling.
*You can substitute ½ lb of regular wheat pasta, but if you do, skip the rinsing in step 7.
Keywords: gluten free, chick pea, italian, broccoli rabe, sausage, easy, fast