A pasta dish you’ll want to save for later!
ORECHIETTE WITH SWEET SAUSAGE AND RAPINI
1 head garlic
1 head rapini (brococoli rabe, ends trimmed)
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (plus 4 tablespoons)
1/4 cup whole almonds (skinned, toasted)
pinch red chili flakes
1/2 cup Parmesan (grated, divided)
3/4 pound fresh pork sausage (sweet italian, removed from casings)
1 pound orecchiette
Kosher salt (to taste)
Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
Slice the head of garlic in half, width-wise. Drizzle cut sides of the garlic head with olive oil and wrap both sides in aluminum foil. Place garlic on the sheet tray and roast in the oven until the garlic has caramelized, about 30 – 35 minutes. Remove from the oven to cool. Once cool, remove 10 garlic clove halves and set aside to use in the pesto.
Fill a large bowl with ice water and set aside.
In a large pot, add 6 quarts of water and 2 tablespoons of Kosher salt and bring to a boil. Add the rapini to the water and boil for 5 minutes. Remove the rapini from the pot and shock in the ice bath. When the rapini is cooled, drain and dry on a paper towel-lined plate and remove to the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade attachment.
Add the almonds to the bowl of a food processor, and pulse until coarsely chopped (being careful not to over process). Add the rapini, garlic, red chili flakes and half of the Parmesan to the food processor and pulse until combined. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in 1/3 cup of olive oil into the food processor and blend until the mixture is emulsified. Remove to a large bowl and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and season generously with salt.
Meanwhile, in a large saute pan, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and heat until just short of smoking. Add the sausage to the pan, breaking the sausage up with the back of a wooden spoon or with a potato masher until browned, about 7-9 minutes.
Place the orecchiette in the boiling water and cook 2 minutes less than the cook time indicated on the package instructions. While the pasta is boiling, add 1/4 cup of the pasta water to the pan with the sausage. Add the rapini pesto to the pan and work into the sausage with tongs to form a sauce. When the pasta is al dente, remove it from the water and place it directly into the sauce with the sausage and pesto and toss to combine. Add the remaining Parmesan off the heat and toss. Plate and serve immediately.
Tip: If you can’t find rapini, use a favorite green or vegetable like swiss chard or finely chopped broccoli! Make the rapini pesto a day in advance and keep stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.