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Orecchiette with broccoli rabe and sausage

Orecchiette with broccoli rabe and sausage

Extra Virgin Italian Olive Oil from The Awaiting Table

Fresh Orecchiette Drying on Parchment 

I went to Puglia in October with an adventurous group of fellow food and wine lovers. I took a week long class on Italian food and wine of the region at The Awaiting Table, learned how to make homemade orecchiette in a castle and never looked back. I've been making Orecchiette Weekly for about 9 months now and I'm getting pretty good at it.  We love this classic pasta with the broccoli rabe and sausage.  I made it last night on a Thursday but generally it's a weekend dinner served with a solid Italian red wine.
Our local butcher makes delicious spicy Italian chicken sausages so that's what I use, the broccoli rabe and the best Parmesan (Parmigiano-Reggiano) are always at the market.  We also have good extra virgin olive oil, fresh Italian parsley and organic durum wheat semolina for the orecchiette.  So, what am I supposed to do? I make the pasta.  Sometimes I make myself an Aperol Spritz, that's always a good idea.

I highly recommend taking a class or classes at The Awaiting Table in Lecce, especially if you're interested in traveling to learn about  regional Southern Italian food and wine.  Also recommended is their special Italian extra virgin olive oil which they sell from their website.   Something to look forward to after Corona virus quarantine.  We arrived in Rome, spent a weekend enjoying Rome and then took the train to Lecce, aren't we happy to have travel memories of our life before covid.

Recipe for Orecchiette with broccoli rabe and sausage
makes 4-6 servings

Make the Orecchiette 

1 & 1/2 cups Durum Wheat Semolina, plus extra for the board 
1/3 cup barley flour
Scant cup water

Place the flours on a heavy pastry board and mix together, place the extra off to the right side.
Make a well in the center of the flours and pour in the water, don't let it spill out.
Using your finger carefully pull the flours into the water and swirl around creating a paste.  
When the flours are all mixed in the flour begin kneading the mixture into a ball and a soft dough will form, continue kneading until smooth and springy.  Adding extra flour  a little at a time if the dough is too sticky.

Don't add salt to the pasta dough, it goes in the cooking water.

Divide the dough into four pieces using a bench scraper.
One at a time roll the dough piece into a rope, not too thin, not too fat, about 1/3" wide
Cut 1/3" pieces of dough off the ropes, using a bench scraper, set aside.
Form the orecchiette with a table knife, it should have a slightly serrated edge.
Press each piece down with the knife and scrape across the board, flip the piece over on your thumb and form a round shape.  Try to make your shape size consistent.  Place orecchiette on parchment paper, two half sheets if you make all the dough.
Repeat with all the dough pieces.
Let pasta dry on the parchment while you make the sauce.

Makes enough pasta with the sauce for 4-6 people.

Make the Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe and Sausage 

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for serving
8-10 ounces spicy Italian sausage, pork or chicken, casings removed
1 large bunch broccoli rabe, washed, trimmed and cut into 2 inch pieces
Fresh Orecchiette,  drying on parchment
Parmigiano Reggiano, a nice chunk grated for pasta and additional for serving, make a big pile
Flat leaf Italian parsley, finely chopped for serving, chop at least  half the bunch

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat, add the sausage and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until browned, set aside.
Meanwhile, bring salted pasta water to a boil and blanch the broccoli rabe, about two minutes.  Remove from the water and add to the sausage.
Return the water to a boil and add the Orecchiette.  Cook and stir, when the water returns to the boil cook for about four minutes.  Drain, reserve at least 1 cup of cooking water.
Add the Orecchiette to the sausage mixture, add cheese and some of the cooking water, check seasonings.
Serve with grated cheese, chopped parsley and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.


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