Saturday, September 17, 2011

Penne with Broccoli Rabe and Ricotta

The title of this post is not entirely accurate. I thought I bought broccoli rabe for this recipe but turns out I bought broccolini. Apparently broccolini is a cross between regular ol' North American broccoli and Chinese broccoli. Or so says this Wikipedia entry on the subject. Who knew? So for the official record, I made Penne with Broccolini and Ricotta. Not Broccoli Rabe.
On reading up a bit more about broccoli rabe I'm actually glad I accidentally bought broccolini. Sounds like broccoli rabe is an acquired taste. Broccolini, on the other hand is quite pleasant. It may be that I cooked the heck out of it hence removing any/all flavour, but I found it less harsh than broccoli and very tender. This pasta is made with turkey sausage removed from its casings cooked with red onion and garlic. The only easy way I have found to remove turkey sausage from casings through the years is with a good pair of kitchen scissors. Just make sure you wash your scissors after, obviously! I only use my kitchen scissors for cooking; they also come in handy when cutting up spaghetti for the kids, who haven't yet mastered the art of the fork-twirl.

 Everyone enjoyed this dish, the first I have made from I've been seeking out healthy recipes lately and trying to add more whole grains to our dinner table (hence the whole wheat penne).

Penne with Broccoli Rabe and Ricotta (from

1 bunch broccoli rabe (or broccolini)
12 ounces whole-wheat penne
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 lean Italian turkey sausages, casings removed
1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, sliced
small pinch crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 cup part-skim ricotta
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the broccoli rabe; cook for 4 minutes. Transfer the broccoli rabe to a colander. When it's cool enough to handle, chop into bite-size pieces.

Add the penne to the same pot of boiling water and cook until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water before draining the penne.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sausages, onion, garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, crumbling the sausage with a wooden spoon, until browned, 8 minutes. Add the chopped broccoli rabe and saute until tender, about 2 more minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring until well combined, about 1 minute.

Adjust the heat to low and add the pasta to the skillet. Toss to combine the ingredients, adding a little of the reserved cooking water if the mixture seems dry. Stir in the ricotta and Parmesan, take the pan off the heat, and toss well. Serve immediately.

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