Penne w/ Broccoli Rabe, Sausage & Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Penne w: broccoli rabe, sausage and sundried tomatoes

If you’ve spent the afternoon at the Signature Theater seeing Open House by Will Eno (“People have been trying nobly for years and years to have plays solve in two hours what hasn’t been solved in many lifetimes. This has to stop.” I laughed so hard I cried…) and want to have dinner over in time to watch the Oscars,  this is the dish to make. I hate to even use the word “quick” to describe this meal, because it cheapens it. This is no fast food you’ve ever eaten before. It is rich, complex, and absolutely delicious.

Thank you, Lidia Bastianich for this recipe. If there were an Oscar for great Italian cooking, it’s be yours.

(See Recipe after the jump) 


Before you make this, read this post and listen to this episode of the Splendid Table with Lidia Bastianich, on whose recipe this dish is based.  I did everything as Lidia does, except I added a few more garlic cloves and some sun-dried tomatoes.

To learn how to trim broccoli rabe, read this  from Lidia’s Italy.   She also has a version of this pasta using orichiette, in which she sautés the sausage first. (You can watch her make that version on PBS. ) I like that idea, and will try it that way next time.

  • 1 lb penne  (We are currently loving Ghigi organic pasta from Costco)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 6  garlic cloves, crushed with a knife or sliced
  • 1 large bunch broccoli rabe, trimmed (Delicate stems and florets only)
  • 1/2 pound sweet Italian sausage
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red peppers
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup chicken broth (+ some pasta water as needed)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup sliced sun dried tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of  well-salted water to a boil. Start the pasta cooking about the point that you add the sausage to the sauté pan.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the garlic and cook over moderately high heat until golden. Add the broccoli rabe, crushed red pepper and salt; cover and steam for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the chicken stock, sausage, tomatoes and butter and cook, uncovered, over high heat until the sauce reduces slightly, about 3 minutes. Add pasta water if it reduces too much before the pasta is cooked.

Drain the pasta, add to the skillet and toss gently. Sprinkle half the cheese on top and toss again.  Sprinkle with remaining cheese and serve.

Here are instructions if you want to make it cooking the sausage first –

Peel the casing from the sausage, crumble it, and sauté for a few moments over moderately high heat in olive oil. Add the garlic and sauté till the sausage is lightly browned. drain off the fat and add a little more olive oil. Add broccoli rabe, tomatoes, salt and red pepper flakes to pan, tossing well. Cover pan and let steam for several minutes: when the broccoli has wilted, stir in the butter, then the stock and bring to a boil. Let cook uncovered for several minutes more to reduce and concentrate the liquid. Set aside until the pasta is ready. Add cooked pasta to pan and toss gently. Add half the cheese, then serve sprinkled with remaining cheese.

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