orecchiette with brown butter, sausage and rapini

February 13, 2014 § 84 Comments

I tried really hard to hold off on posting another pasta recipe for awhile, and I think I did pretty good!  The last pasta post was 30+ days ago on January 13th.  You could almost call this a pasta blog.  After all there are now 23 pasta recipes posted and a few in the drafts waiting patiently for their time in the spotlight.  This one is good.  Orecchiette with brown butter, sausage and rapini; a flawless combination.


Orecchiette has always been a favorite of mine.  The young man of the house refers to them appropriately as “helmets”.  The shapes are perfect little cups holding bits of delicious sauce in every bite.   Rather than pork, we tend to lean toward using chicken sausage and this was an especially fine hot Italian sort.

Rapini, aka broccoli rabe,  has gently spiked tender leaves that surround clusters of green buds that resemble small heads of broccoli.  The flavor of rapini has been described as nutty, bitter, and pungent.  This is a very simple sauté that would be delicious with any other type of hearty leafy green such as kale, mustard greens or chard.  Eat more leafy greens!  … even if butter is involved.


I n g r e d i e n t s

  • 1 pound orecchiette
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 pound hot Italian chicken sausage, casings removed
  • 1/2 bunch rapini, de-stemmed and roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes (or more according to desire)
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, plus a little more for garnish

M e t h o d

Using a large pot, bring salted water to boil.  Cook pasta according to timed instructions until al dente.  Drain and reserve at least a 1 cup of pasta water. Set aside.

Melt butter over medium heat in a large sauté pan. Cook until  browned a little, approximately 5 minutes. Put all except a 1 tablespoon of the butter into a small bowl. Return pan to heat, and add sausage. Cook until brown, while breaking up with a spoon.  Add rapini and red pepper flakes to pan.  Seasoning with salt and pepper and cook until wilted, 5-7 minutes, covering if necessary.

Add pasta to sausage and greens, then add pasta water, reserved butter and Parmigiano Reggiano and toss to coat. Serve immediately with additional Parmigiano Reggiano and red pepper flakes.


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