It Takes Less Than 30 Minutes to Make This Sausage and Broccoli Rabe Pasta

This hearty pasta from Puglia is one of our weeknight go-tos.

Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe

Jordan Provost / Food Styling by Thu Buser

Active Time:
25 mins
Total Time:
25 mins
4 servings

This pasta is one of our favorites. Sweet-spicy Italian sausage and bitter broccoli rabe are amplified by a lot of garlic, a handful of grated or shaved Parmesan, and a healthy pinch of crushed red pepper flakes. If you want to bump up the umami in this dish, add an anchovy or two to the pan along with the garlic, and mash them into the broccoli rabe.

Frequently asked questions

What is broccoli rabe?

Broccoli rabe, also known as rapini, is a green vegetable known for its delicious nutty, bitter flavor, often used in Italian cooking. Despite its name and appearance, broccoli rabe is not a type of broccoli, but actually more closely related to the turnip. 

Notes from the Food & Wine Test Kitchen

We like to sauté pieces of the broccoli rabe until they brown, but if you want to temper its inherent bitterness a bit more, blanch the broccoli rabe in the boiling pasta water for two minutes, then add it to the pan with the sausage drippings. Adding the garlic towards the end of the cooking process, when the broccoli rabe is almost done, ensures the garlic doesn’t overly brown or burn while the broccoli rabe cooks.


  • Kosher salt

  • 1 pound dried orecchiette

  • 1 pound Italian sausage (sweet or spicy), removed from casing

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 pound broccoli rabe, tough ends trimmed, chopped into 1-inch pieces

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed

  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

  • Shaved Parmesan for garnish

  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, plus more as needed


  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add orecchiette and boil until al dente according to package instructions, 10 to 12 minutes. Drain orecchiette, reserving about half a cup of pasta cooking water, and transfer to a bowl with sausage.

  2. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium. Add sausage and cook until browned, breaking sausage up with a wooden spoon so it browns evenly, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove sausage from skillet and transfer to a large bowl; leave drippings in skillet.

  3. Add olive oil to skillet, keeping heat at medium. Add broccoli rabe to pan and cook until wilted and starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Season broccoli rabe with salt and add garlic. Cook garlic, stirring frequently, until fragrant but not browned, about 2 minutes. Transfer broccoli rabe and garlic to the bowl with the pasta and sausage and toss to combine with reserved pasta water. Divide the pasta among 4 bowls, top it with shaved Parmesan and crushed red pepper flakes, and serve.

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