Summer Italian Pasta
I found it funny that I’ve never posted on this because it’s one of my favorite pasta preparations: A hearty green, roasted tomatoes, and spicy sausage. You don’t need any sauce and the final dish is actually lighter than you would think. It’s best in the summer time when the veggies are fresh and perfect.
This is the kind of Italian food that I can’t get enough of.
Summer Italian Pasta
Yield: Serves 6.
1 pound tube pasta
1 pound spicy Italian sausage
1 bunch broccoli rabe
1 pint cherry tomatoes, roasted
2 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
1 tablespoon fresh oregano
Salt and pepper
1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Chop cherry tomatoes in half and lay them out, cut side up,on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with olive oil and salt and roast for 20 minutes until they are wilted and slightly charred. Let cool.
2) Meanwhile, in a large saute pan, add sausage and a drizzle of oil over medium-low heat. Cook slowly so the fat renders out of the sausage slowly and they crisp up a bit.
3) Start a large pot of boiling water for the rabe and pasta. Season it well with salt (1 tablespoon per gallon of Kosher salt). Add broccoli rabe and blanch for 60-90 seconds until the veggie is bright green but not completely limp. Remove and let drain. Save the water for the pasta.
4) Once sausage is mostly browned all around, remove from the pan and cut into 1/4-1/2 inch coins. Return to pan along with garlic. If the pan is very dry, add a drizzle of oil. Cook for 4-5 minutes to finish cooking sausage. Stir frequently so garlic doesn't burn.
5) Add broccoli rabe to the pan and continue to cook over medium-low heat.
6) Cook pasta according to package.
7) Add 2/3 cup of pasta water to the sausage mixture. Stir in cherry tomatoes.
8) WHen pastas is done, drain it and immediately to pan with sausage. Season with fresh oregano, salt, and pepper.
9) Toss ingredients together and serve immediately with parmesan cheese.
Three Main Ingredients
There are really only three main ingredients to this dish and when you combine them all in the right way, they make a light sauce that coats the pasta. The first of these is broccoli rabe. Well, in actually you could use any hearty green in my opinion. Chard would work equally well.
Broccoli rabe is the traditional green though.
Get a large part of boiling water ready and salt it nicely. I like to use about a tablespoon of kosher salt per gallon of water. You can just eyeball, but the water should taste salty.
Cut off the thick stems on the rabe and dunk it in the water for 60-90 seconds until it is just wilted, but still has a tiny bit of crunch. Then drain the rabe and let it cool.
Save the water in the pot (I just pull the rabe out with tongs) so you can cook the pasta in the same water.
Once the rabe is cool enough to handle, roughly chop it up.
The second ingredient is tomatoes. I do not use any sort of sauce for this recipe, but I do roast about a pint of cherry tomatoes and add them in. These little guys add an intense tomato flavor without making the dish really heavy with a thick sauce.
I just half the tomatoes, drizzle them with olive oil and a pinch of salt and roast them at 400 degrees F., cut side up, for about 20 minutes. They will be lightly charred on the bottom and wilted.
Third is the sausage. A spicy Italian sausage obviously brings a lot of flavor to the dish. The key to cooking the sausage right for this dish is to start them on fairly low heat so they slowly cook and render out the fat in the sausage. Brown them for about 5-6 minutes per side.
There are probably two dozen types of pasta you could use for this dish. I recommend anything tubular in shape and I would stay away from strand pasta like spaghetti just because it’ll be harder to toss the pasta with the ingredients.
Cook the pasta according to the package!
Finishing the Dish
Once the sausage has browned on all sides, take it out of the pan and cut it into disks. It’s possible that the sausage won’t be completely cooked through at this point, which is fine. Toss it back into the pan with the garlic and a drizzle of oil if the pan is dry. Keep the heat on medium-low and continue to cook for 5-6 minutes to finish cooking the sausage.
It’s important to stir regularly at this point or you’ll burn the garlic.
Then you can stir in the broccoli rabe!
The Most Important Ingredient
While there are three ingredients that make up the backbone of this dish, the most important ingredient is none of them. It’s actually the pasta water. This water is starchy and salty and perfect for making a light sauce in the pan.
Once the sausage and rabe has cooked for a minute or two, pour in about 2/3 of a cup of the pasta water. It’s best to do this right before you drain the pasta so it’s as starchy as possible.
Then add in your tomatoes and all those ingredients will essentially make a very light sauce.
Then just toss in your drained pasta! Don’t worry about draining the pasta perfectly. Some liquid with the pasta is good to keep the sauce going.
Stir that all together well (tongs are your friend) and season the dish with salt, pepper, fresh oregano, and lots of Parmesan cheese.
Serve that up and you’re in for a treat!
This recipe makes a Duggar-sized portion of food, but luckily the leftovers are delicious and keep great for a few days. You can just microwave the pasta on high for a few minutes with a drizzle of water or oil to keep it loose and it’ll reheat perfectly.
This is my favorite kind of recipe because it’s actually a short list of ingredients but the difference between making it perfectly and making it just okay is a few little tricks like the pasta water and cooking the sausage slowly.
Anybody else make a pasta dish like this? Leave a comment!