Whenever the words "orecchiette" and "broccoli rabe" appear together in a sentence, my mind always races to the inevitable "sausage" addition. There is a reason for this: the bitter greens need some fat for balance and sausage does a really good job at this. I've written about the pairing before, so I was intrigued when this recipe from Saveur didn't end with sausage, but with goat cheese. How would that work out?
The goat cheese is added towards the end, so it looks all delicate and beautiful. It hangs together for a couple of minutes before eventually breaking down into the pasta, forming a creamy sauce.
The result is somewhere between the traditional sausage-based recipe and mac and cheese, multiplied by vegetables. My wife loved the creamy texture and the hint of lemon zest. I found it, honestly, a little heavy and pined for the lighter touch of sausage. That's probably the first time "lighter" and "sausage" have been in the same sentence together.
- 1 pound broccoli rabe, chopped
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 6 garlic cloves, chopped
- 3/4 teaspoon crush red chile flakes
- 12 ounces orecchiette
- 2 tablespoons lemon zest
- 4 ounces goat cheese, sliced
Pour about 8 quarts of water into a large pot, add a few tablespoons of salt, and bring it to a boil. Toss in the broccoli rabe and cook for 4 minutes. Remove it with a pair of tongs and immediately toss it in some ice water. Chill for a few minutes then drain and pat dry.
Meanwhile, bring the pot of water back to a boil and cook the orecchiette according to the directions on the box. Taste the pasta with a minute left on the timer. If al dente, turn off the heat, drain the pasta, and transfer it to the skillet. Turn the heat to high, add the lemon zest, and season with salt. Cook for a minute, stirring constantly.
Transfer the pasta to bowls or plates. Add a bit of goat cheese to each one. Serve.