For this classic orecchiette pasta recipe, sweet Italian sausage combines with broccoli rabe, Parmesan cheese, and freshly toasted bread crumbs.

More of a chicken fan? Check out Chowhound’s chicken sausage recipes.

  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Total: 1 hr 5 mins 
  • Active: 25 mins 

Ingredients (9)

  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 pounds broccoli rabe
  • 1 pound orecchiette pasta
  • 1/2 pound sweet Italian sausage, cooked, coarsely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • Pinch of red chile flakes
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese


  1. Warm 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the bread crumbs and stir to coat. Sprinkle with salt and cook, stirring often, until the crumbs are deep golden brown, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil over high heat. Add the broccoli rabe and cook until the stems are just tender, about 2 to 3 minutes. Using tongs or a wire-mesh skimmer, lift out the broccoli rabe into a sieve and cool it quickly under cold running water. Drain and squeeze gently to remove excess moisture. Chop coarsely and set aside.
  3. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook, stirring occasionally, according to the package directions.
  4. Meanwhile, warm the remaining 4 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in the same skillet you used for the breadcrumbs. Add the sausage, garlic and red chile flakes and cook until the sausage is heated through, about 5 minutes. Add the broccoli rabe and cook about 2 minutes. Season with salt.
  5. When the pasta is ready, scoop out and reserve about 2 ladlefuls of the cooking water, then drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Add the sausage mixture and the cheese and stir and toss well over low heat to combine, adjusting the consistency with some of the cooking water, if needed.
  6. Divide the pasta evenly into warmed serving bowls, sprinkle with the toasted bread crumbs, and serve immediately.