Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Quintessential Pasta Dish...Orecchiette with Sausage and Rapini

Who doesn't love pasta? I know I certainly do! For me, when I think of Sundays, I think about sitting around at the kitchen table with my family, a bowl of pasta and a glass of wine. That has always been our tradition, pasta every Sunday lunch. And now with my mom being away this winter, my sisters and I still try to uphold that tradition, the only difference being that we try out not-so traditional pasta dishes. Not that my mom wouldn't like them, but she LOVES her fettucine she makes from scratch every Sunday.

And so when I came across an article a few weeks ago about Italian pasta dishes that they thought were the most quintessential and iconic we all need to master, I thought I'd start a series and share with you some of my recipes of these classic pasta dishes I grew up making and eating.

Some of the dishes they mentioned were, Spaghetti alla Carbonara, Pasta e Fagioli, Penne alla Vodka, Fettucine Alfredo, Marcella's tomato sauce with onions and butter (recipe here), Ricotta Gnocchi (recipe here) and many more (22 in all) I'm hoping to share with you the next few months (or longer).

The first one is, Orecchiette with Sausage and Rapini.

This is one of my favourite pasta dishes because you have everything in one dish. Pasta, vegetables and meat. So comforting! And it's very versatile because you can use broccoli instead of rapini, turkey or chicken sausage instead of pork or you can make it totally vegetarian, and eliminate the sausage completely and I promise you, it is still amazing!

When I usually make this dish, I cook the pasta and the rapini together. I first throw in the pasta and 2-3 minutes before the pasta is al dente, I throw in the rapini. Not sure if that makes anyone nervous, not knowing when the pasta is almost ready, because the last thing you want is pasta that is over cooked. That is the worst. If you're not sure, I say take it out sooner than later. And that goes for any dried pasta. So this way, you cook your rapini first then your pasta. Can't go wrong.

 Orecchiette Pasta with Sausage and Rapini

1 bunch of rapini
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 lb. sweet or spicy pork sausage
3 cloves garlic, chopped
Red chili peppers, to taste
500 grams orecchiette pasta
Parmesan cheese, grated
Olive oil

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
In the meantime, cut off and throw away the bottom of the rapini that is a little woody. Cut into 1 inch pieces and wash thoroughly. Cook in boiling water until tender. Scoop out with a strainer spoon or spider, drain and set aside. Do not turn off the heat. Bring the water to a boil again and throw in the orecchiettte pasta and cook until al dente. Drain well. Save some of the cooking water.
Meanwhile, remove the sausage from the casing and crumble it. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook until is lightly browned. Add the chopped garlic and the chili peppers and continue cooking until the garlic is soft and fragrant. Add the cooked rapini and pasta and cooking water and toss until it's all combined. Take off the heat. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Drizzle with olive oil and serve.

m xo

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