Cooking pasta Bittman-style means upending the traditional ratio of pasta to sauce and creating a dish with half a pound of pasta for every two to four cups of sauce. You may be skeptical, but it's certainly worth a try; logic says that as long as your sauce is good, the dish should be good. It's a painless way to eat more vegetables and fewer refined carbohydrates.
Italian sausage and broccoli rabe are a classic combination with pasta, but some people don't like the vegetable's bitterness. Feel free to substitute cauliflower or broccoli in place of the broccoli rabe—or chickpeas for the sausage, if you don't eat meat.
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- About 1 pound broccoli rabe, trimmed and cut into pieces
- 1/4 cup olive oil, or more as needed
- 1 tablespoon chopped garlic, or more to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds (optional)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 to 1/2 pound sweet or spicy Italian sausage (if using link sausage, squeeze it from the casing or cut it up a bit)
- 1/2 cup white wine or water
- 1/2 pound dried orchiette, penne, ziti, or other cut pasta, preferably whole wheat
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
Cook the pasta in the boiling water for about 5 minutes before checking the first time. When the pasta is just tender, but not quite done, drain it, reserving about a cup of the cooking water. Toss the pasta with the sauce, along with some of the pasta water to keep the pasta from drying out. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve immediately, with the Parmesan, if you desire.