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Pasta with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe

4 Servings

30 minutes

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Orecchiette, or pasta resembling “little ears,” is the classic choice for this dish; its cup-like shape is ideal for catching bits of the broccoli rabe. If you can't find orecchiette, campanelle is a good substitute; it cooks in just about the same time. Adding the broccoli rabe in two stages gives the dish textural interest, as some pieces will be fully tender and almost saucy, white others retain a bit of bite. To crush the fennel seeds, pulse a few times in a spice or coffee grinder or use a mortar and pestle. Once everything is in the skillet, the pan will be filled to the brim; the easiest way to stir is with two spatulas and a gentle tossing motion




Don't skip mixing water into the sausage. The water loosens the sausage, making it easier to break into pieces while cooking so that it's more evenly distributed in the finished dish.

30 minutes


  • 12

    ounces hot Italian sausage, casings removed

  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper


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Stephanie K.
April 27, 2023
Easy, flavorful weeknight dish
This classic, everyday pasta dish is deceptively simple, meaning that you might not think you need a recipe. But the tips included in this one elevate it from the mundane. Loosening the sausage with water, adding the broccoli rabe in stages, and crushing the fennel all upped the quality of the dish and should not be skipped. I might even try lightly toasting the fennel in a dry pan before crushing next time. Will definitely make this again.
Jonathan M.
September 2, 2022
Loved it!
I really enjoyed this recipe! Very easy to make and full of flavor
Kimberly S.
June 28, 2022
A dinnertime staple
This dish is such a winner in our household. As written, it's delicious. Overtime, I've scaled back on the sausage (use closer to 1/2 lb) and use pecorino romano, instead of parmesan (we just like the stronger flavor of this cheese). The fennel really makes this dish!
Patrick S.
April 7, 2024
Best version ever
I've made no end of variations of orecchiette with sausage and broccoli rabe, but this is far and away the best. It's a little extra effort but definitely worth it. The sauce is silky and full of flavor. I need to figure out how to keep the orecchiette from sticking in log, stacked clumps. Maybe rinse after draining.
Justin F.
April 1, 2024
Quick and simple and classic
Definitely trust the process on this one, it felt simple and came out tasting exactly like you hoped. Do feel like I'm wasting half a bulb of garlic, but I'll try and remember to save it for some garlic bread or something next time!
Leah H.

This pasta was delicious. I didn't have broccoli rabe, so I used broccoli, and it was a great substitution, although missing the yummy bitter of the rabe. I also used toasted fennel from the Indian grocery - may have been better than untoasted fennel.

Joanne G.

I’ve made this several times and it’s delicious. Very salty tho, even though I didn’t put as much salt in the pasta water this time. And I halved the recipe for just the 2 of us but used a whole bunch of broccoli rabe anyway and liked it that way.

Lorraine P.

This was delicious! I followed the recipe exactly as written, with one addition. For the last 3/5 minutes of cooking, I added 1 large clove of grated garlic.


Rachal C.

I liked this a lot. I made once before with fresh sausage made from chicken- you need the pork for a rich, meaty flavor, unfortunately, so I won’t make it often. It’s nice for the season’s weather too. Very hearty. Fairly easy. I did use whole wheat spaghetti trying to make it a bit more healthy and it worked out great (Trader Joe’s brand has a great pasta texture and a nice nuttiness) but because I did not trust the pasta water to have sufficient starch content to produce the silky sauce effect, I threw in a few tablespoons of cream at the very end. Shaved instead of grated Parmesan added one more textural layer to the dish and while some emulsified into the “sauce”, I enjoyed tasting the noticeable bits of such a great cheese. I am out of fennel seed, so used dried chervil instead, and I actually like it better.

Donna D.

Easy and very tasty! The whole family enjoyed it! I did increase the sausage a bit. I made it a few times and it will be a regular in the rotation.