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Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe & Sausage

The Challenge:

Next up on the list: Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe & Sausage, which you can get here or on page 152 of Foolproof.

Lea's Take:

I thought this recipe was going to be a home run - it's similar to one of my five Go-Tos, so I figured I'd have no problems with it.

Oh, how much I still need to learn.

To start, the ingredients were hard to find. I know Mary has already discussed our vanilla grocery store in another post, so I won't elaborate, except to say this... they don't sell broccoli rabe. As this was my first foray into broccoli rabe (obviously, since, if I were to have spelled it before, it would've been broccoli rob, not rabe), I didn't even know what I was looking for, so I was furiously Googling and texting Mary to see if it's under a different name (FYI, it is... we still didn't have it). So, bless my sister, she knew where to get it, and offered to get some for me, too, when she went shopping.

(This is what broccoli rabe looks like) [Mary: So green and pretty.}

(I'll also add here that was on top of my shopping that week, only to be delayed because of the stupid broccoli rabe. I had to wait for my dad to drop it off...he had forgotten about me...I kept calling...he was outside, cutting the was stress. ful.)

Aaaaanyway, as the title states, the recipe called for orecchiette pasta. I had never heard of it [Mary: It means "little ears". Precious!] [Lea: I did learn that.] and, since we didn't even have broccoli rabe at our grocery store, I did not have high hopes that I'd find orecchiette pasta. But, guess what? They did! Score one for the vanilla grocery store!

The recipe also asks for 1/2 pound of sweet Italian sausage and a 1/2 pound of spicy. I'm going to complain about Ina once again because pre-packaged sausage doesn't come in 1/2 pound sizes, so I had to buy waaaay more than I needed. But, Josh likes sausage, so he ate it the rest of the week.

The directions were a little stressful in that we had to cook the pasta for EXACTLY 9 minutes. What would happen if it was 9-1/2 or 8-3/4? I didn't want to find out, so I set the time for EXACTLY 9 minutes. I will add, though, that the recipe did give good advice about keeping some of the cooking liquid if the pasta seemed dry. That was a tip I can use later since we eat a lot of pasta around these parts.

Mary's Take:

Do y'all have weekly food habits? Like, every Friday Lea's family has pizza, or other people do Taco Tuesday. For us, it's pasta on Thursdays. I think that came from always needing to be home on Thursday evenings to curl up with a steaming bowl of deliciousness to watch Friends or Grey's Anatomy.

This is one of those bowls of deliciousness.

I had to make a little adjustment to my recipe this time and use all hot sausage. Lea has mentioned that it's a smart move to read the recipe before doing the shopping -- that would've helped me that day. [Lea: Wait, I knew something you didn't? To quote Mom: "Mark this day down."] I, too, bought 1-lb. packages of sausage (not a problem, I'm happy to have extra to freeze), but I didn't read that I was to bake the links first and then slice them for the pasta. I expected to break up the bulk sausage and sauté it. I couldn't find the hot sausage without the casing, so I ended up buying hot in link form (thinking I could take it out of its casing) and bulk regular.

When I got home and looked at the recipe, I realized I needed both kinds IN the casing so it could be baked, then sliced. Rats. If I didn't want to make my pictures pretty for y'all, our faithful readers, I would have just done what I thought I was going to have to do, and brown the 2 kinds of sausage on the stove. Next time I will, and save myself another pan to wash.

Sorry, that was a lot of explanation over what's really a non-issue. All those words above are just to say why I used my whole pound of spicy sausage and none of the sweet (because of the pictures). And to remind you to read the recipes. [Lea: Yes.]

Here's my tip of the day: buy the tube of tomato paste. Never mind trying to store part of a can of it; very few recipes call for the entire thing, and then it sits in the fridge until the green mold takes over. You'll thank me later. [Lea: Hey, I learned something today! I didn't even know this was a thing! Does it still stay in the fridge? How long does it last? Enquiring minds want to know!]

This recipe uses 2 pots: one to make a lovely sauce of the sausage, crushed tomatoes, garlic, wine, and tomato paste, and the other to cook the orecchiette and broccoli rabe. I like that you cook the pasta (as Lea mentioned, for exactly 9 minutes) and add the broccoli rabe until the pasta is cooked through. It would be a nightmare of a mess for me if I had to get out all the pasta when it was done, saving the cooking water, and then adding the greens to cook until they were done. Someone (thanks, Ina, for sharing it with me!) saved me a headache when they thought up this little genius way of doing it.

After adding the rabe, the recipe says to cook for another 2-3 minutes. As you can see below, my pasta wasn't quite done yet at that time. I'm not a big al dente person, so mine cooked for probably another 5 minutes.

(Don't forget to scoop out some of the pasta water before you drain it so it can be added to the sauce if it's too thick. I probably added about a quarter of a cup of the water to the finished pasta.)

The Results:

Lea: This dish, while good, was very spicy. My lips were burning for a good hour after eating. Next time, I will not use spicy sausage at all. I don't think it added anything except for heartburn and Mr. Good Eater being sick the entire next day [Mary: My poor boy.]. Good times! But Josh thought it was delicious and Mr. Picky Pants ate it, so that was good enough for me.

Mary: Even though I used all hot sausage, I didn't find it as spicy as Lea did. I mean, it was a tolerable heat for me, but I like some spice in my food. And, contrary to what you might think, I drink milk with dinner, not wine, so that helps, too.

[Lea: Hey, ours kind of look alike!]

Both John and I really, really liked this one. It was perfectly saucy and had a ton of flavor. And with the broccoli rabe, it's like health food! It'll be added to the Thursday someone please find me a good show to curl up in front of!

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