1 head rapini (broccoli rabe), ends trimmed
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus 4 tablespoons
¼ cup whole skinned almonds, toasted
5 cloves roasted garlic
Pinch of hot red pepper flakes
½ cup grated Parmigiano- Reggiano
¾ pound fresh pork sausage, such as sweet Italian
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Prepare an ice bath and set aside. Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot and add 2 tablespoons salt.
Blanch the rapini for 5 minutes or just until tender. Remove rapini from the boiling water and shock in the ice bath. When the broccoli rabe is cool, drain and pat dry with a paper towel and reserve.
In a medium sauté pan over high heat, add two tablespoons olive oil and cook rapini until lightly browned.
Meanwhile, place the almonds in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped (be careful not to over-process). Add the rapini, garlic, hot red pepper flakes and half of the Parmigiano to the bowl of the food processor and season with salt and pepper. While the food processor is running, slowly drizzle in 1/3 cup olive oil until a smooth, emulsified pesto has formed.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and season with salt.
Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan, add two tablespoons olive oil and heat until just short of smoking. Form the sausage into a ball like you would a meatball, season with salt and pepper, and sear until golden brown on both sides. Then, using tongs, break the sausage into small pieces and lower the heat.
Place pasta in the boiling water and cook two minutes less than indicated by the package instructions. While the pasta is boiling, add 1/4 cup pasta water to pan with the sausage.
Add the pesto and work into the sausage with tongs to form a sauce. When the pasta is al dente, add it directly to the sauce and toss vigorously. Add butter and the remaining Parmigiano, remove from heat, and toss to incorporate.
Plate and serve immediately.