Soft, chewy orecchiette (“little ears” in Italian) are paired with spicy Calabrian sausage and a rich, earthy broccoli rabe pesto in this classic from Babbo Ristorante.
2 cups broccoli rabe
3 cloves roasted garlic
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup dried Salumi Calabrese (spicy salumi), ground up or finely chopped
½ pound Parmigiano-Reggiano, for grating
Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil and add 2 tablespoons of salt. Set up an ice bath nearby. Blanch the broccoli rabe for 3 minutes, then remove from water and immediately submerge in the ice bath. Remove the rabe from the ice bath and squeeze dry in a clean kitchen towel, removing as much water as possible. In a food processer, puree the broccoli, roasted garlic, ½ cup olive oil, red pepper flakes, and salt until smooth and set aside.
Divide the dough into four balls; roll the dough into long dowels about ¾ inch thick. Cut into flat disks about ¼ to ½ inch thick. Press the center of each disk on the back of a fork with your thumb to form a saucer shape. Alternatively, use a gnocchi board to press the dough, or use this method. Toss with flour and set aside under a dish towel until you are ready to cook.
Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil and add ¼ cup of salt.
Drop orecchiette in the water and cook for 4 to 5 minutes or until al dente. While pasta is cooking, heat up a 12- to 14-inch sauté pan on medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, garlic and Salumi Calabrese. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, then add the broccoli rabe pesto and 3 tablespoons of the pasta cooking water. Drain the pasta, reserve some of the pasta cooking water, and add the pasta to the sauté pan. Toss together over high heat for 1 minute to coat the pasta, adding a little bit of the pasta cooking water if the sauce looks too tight. Divide the pasta between 6 warm dinner plates, grate Pamigiano-Reggiano over the top and serve immediately.