Weekly Winner – Good to the Bitter End

The pickings for this week’s Weekly Winner were a bit slim.  Not because I cooked anything that wasn’t tasty, (gasp!) but because we were on vacation and I didn’t do much cooking at all.  Also, when I do travel, I always prepare ahead of time and have some tasty leftovers in the freezer that can be quickly thawed and reheated upon our return.  But last night I did make Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe Pesto & Sausage and this week’s winner was decided.

It doesn’t take much for me to like a pasta … I mean, it’s pasta!  What’s not to like?  However this dish was surprising because of all the somewhat bitter notes going on from the broccoli rabe and the pistachios in the pesto.  Trust me.  It works.  This recipe is from Anne Burrell and I think I got it from the Food Network Magazine.

Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe Pesto & Sausage


  • 1 bunch broccoli rabe, tough lower stems removed
  • 1/2 cup pistachios, toasted
  • 3/4 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese, plus more for garnish
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 pound orecchiette pasta
  • High-quality extra-virgin olive oil, for finishing (optional)


Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Set up a bowl of well-salted ice water. Cook the broccoli rabe in the boiling water for 1 to 2 minutes and then immediately plunge in the salted ice water. This will prevent the broccoli rabe from being overcooked and will set the lovely green color.

Drain the broccoli rabe and squeeze out any excess water; coarsely chop. Place the broccoli rabe in the bowl of a food processor and puree until it is a coarse paste. Add the pistachios and parmigiano and puree until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning; you probably will need more salt. Add the ricotta and pulse until combined. Taste for seasoning once again-it should be full-flavored, slightly bitter and creamy at the same time. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. (If you are making the pasta right after the pesto, just use the broccoli rabe blanching water.) Cook the pasta 1 minute less than the cooking time on the package.

While the pasta is cooking, place the pesto in a large skillet and add about 1 to 1 1/2 cups of the pasta cooking water; place over medium-high heat. When the pasta is ready, drain and add to the skillet with the pesto. Stir vigorously to combine and cook until the sauce is creamy and heated through, 1 to 2 minutes; add salt to taste. Remove from the heat, add 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil, if desired, and stir vigorously. Garnish with more parmigiano.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Danny
    Mar 31, 2012 @ 08:59:07

    This sounds delicious and I love the color of the dish!


  2. Trackback: Goat Cheese Gnocchi in Lemon-Broccoli Rabe Sauce « jittery cook

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