Skillet Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe Recipe

Skillet Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe Recipe

[Photographs: Yasmin Fahr]

This is a one-pot meal perfect for a winter night. Whole wheat pasta is combined with a slightly spicy sausage, broccoli rabe, some nutty parmesan and a dose of breadcrumbs to make a fast and relatively healthy dinner.

Broccoli rabe seems to be one of those winter greens that people either love or hate; apparently the bitterness can get the better of some. I fall on the side of people who love it and this is one of my favorite ways of eating it.

The dish takes less than 30 minutes to make and you end up with a warming, hearty pasta that can be as spicy as you like. I topped the pasta with a light sprinkling of breadcrumbs for texture, but sadly it's not seen in the photo because I forgot to put them on when shooting and my friends already starting devouring the pasta before I could re-shoot it. Granted, I had given them the go ahead, so it was entirely my fault.

Feel free to leave them out if you'd like, but everyone agreed that it didn't add a nice crunch when I sprinkled it in their bowls. Homemade tends to be better than storebought, and are super easy to make, but store-bought will do just as well in a pinch.

I used spicy Italian-style chicken sausage for this recipe, but you can use turkey or pork as well. The amount of fat rendered from the sausage may vary, so just keep an eye on that when making the next step of the recipe. Because I love my food on the spicy side, I'd also recommend adding some extra dried red chile flakes to the oil when you add the garlic the pan for just an extra kick of heat.

  • Yield:serves 4
  • Active time: 20 minutes
  • Total time:30 minutes


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound spicy Italian-style chicken or pork sausage
  • 1 pound broccoli rabe, coarse stems removed and leaves roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or grated with a Microplane (about 2 teaspoons)
  • Pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 4 cups homemade or store-bought low sodium chicken broth
  • 3 cups whole wheat or regular dried orecchiette
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh squeezed juice and 1 teaspoon zest from 1 lemon
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 ounce)
  • Homemade or store-bought breadcrumbs


  1. 1.

    Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the sausage and cook, breaking it apart, until no longer pink, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer sausage to a plate. Add broccoli rabe and sautée until just beginning to wilt, about 2 minutes. Add to plate with sausage. Drain all but 1 tablespoon fat. Add the garlic and pepper flakes (if using) and cook, stirring constantly until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

  2. 2.

    Add the broth, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Add the pasta and adjust heat to maintain strong, active bubbles. Cook until just not quite tender, 7 to 9 minutes minutes, maintaining active bubbles in the liquid. Return broccoli rabe and sausage to pan and continue to cook, stirring occasionally to prevent pasta from sticking, until pasta is fully cooked and broccoli is tender, about 3 minutes longer.

  3. 3.

    Remove from the heat, season with salt and pepper, and stir in lemon juice and zest. Stir in the cheese, place into serving bowls and top with the breadcrumbs. Serve