Orecchiette, Broccoli Rabe and Sausage
Broccoli Rabe

The featured element of this dish is Broccoli Rabe. Also known as “Broccoletti,” “Rappini “,  and in Naples, “Friarielli.” In Primo’s Cucina?  They are called “Rabbies”.

Rabbies have been the go-to green leafy vegga-ta-bull for generations of Rossi households spanning hundreds of years of family history.. They are one of the cornerstones of true “Peasante” Style Italian Soul Food. Yet again, they’re another secret element in Gramma Lena’s, and thus Primo’s longevity formula, along with olive oil, garlic, roasted red peppers, and mushrooms.

Mary, Baby Jesus and Angels
This is a quick dish to prepare in Primo’s world. If the Rabbies are prepared and on hand  in the fridge (Remember: Run the kitchen like N.A.S.A.: Plenty of backup, inventory, and systems of redundancy), this can be whipped up in 30 minutes or less.

Many of these recipes trumpet the nutritional advantages of the Mediterranean diet. The basic parameters of Primo’s Kitchen are pretty simple:

Eat to Live, and Live to Eat (and do it in homemade yummiosity!) Everything in moderation, but never deprive yourself of the bountiful gifts that life has to offer.



1 lb. of Rapini (Approximately 2 bunches)

1 lb of Mild Italian Sausage (Casings removed and
Coarsely Crumbled)

¼ cup olive oil, plus a little extra squirt or two for the
“Saw-seege” pan.

5-10 good sized cloves of fresh garlic, depending on how much you like garlic!

1 cup (or more) of Dry White Wine

3 tablespoons of butter

Red Pepper Flakes

Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste

Fresh and Finely Grated Imported Locatelli Cheese

1 lb. Orecchiette pasta

The Steps

Step #1: Prep The “Rabbies”

  1. “Choppa Da Rabbies”
    Chop the thick parts of the stems off the rabbie bunches. (about 1”-2” inches) and discard.
  2. “Tossa Da Rabbies”
    Toss the rabbies into a bath of extremely cold water to perk them up, and then rinse
  3. Strip the Rabe“Strippa Da Rabbies”
    This is a subjective process. Tear off the leaves, and hand tear the larger ones. Leave the little broccoli florets intact.
  4. “Steama Da Rabbies”
    Steam the rabbies for three minutes, just enough to tenderize the thin stalks to an “Al Dente” consistency. You don’t want to steam the living daylights out of them. It leaches all the nutrients out of them, makes them un-appetizingly mushy, and you want to preserve their beautifully vibrant green color.
  5. “Blanche-a Da Rabbies”
    Run cold water over the rabbies, or to totally stop the cooking process, submerge them in iced water.
  6. Optionally, “Dry Da Rabbies”
    Pull the rabbies out of the ice bath, and pat dry thoroughly with paper towels.

Pops either prepares the rabbies ahead of time and refrigerates the rabbies so he doesn’t have to futz with this as he puts this dish together, or if doing it in real time, he WAITS to dry them right up to the moment before lightly sauteeing them (he dries them as the pasta water reaches its boiling point). This is another “Nick Trick”, to keep those rabbies as perky and green as possible before applying heat to them.

Step #2: “Brown Da Saw-Seege”

brown the sausageSplash a little olive oil into a cast iron skillet or stainless steel frying pan. DO NOT USE A NON-STICK SURFACED PAN!  Dump the crumbled sausage in the pan over a medium heat.

The goal is to get the sausage to brown, and get the little sausage bits sticking to the pan’s surface. Those little bits are going to flavor your sauce, so don’t nudge the sausage too much as you’re browning it. Move it around too much, and you’ll end up with grayish saw-seege chunks, which will adversely affect the flavor and color of the eventual  sauce, and frankly, looks like hell. Leave it alone, and let it stick!

When sufficiently browned on one side, flip the saw-seeg crumbles with a spatula, and then break it up a bit into bite-sized morsels. When fully browned, turn off the fire and place the pan on the back of the stove.

Step #3  “Make The Gahlic Flower”

  1. In a Separate Frying Pan, pour ¼ cup of olive oil
  2. Throw in a dash or two of red pepper flakes to give it a controlled amount of “heat”. Don’t over do it, as this should be a subtlety, not an out of control wildfire of mouth burning pepper in your maw.
  3. sausage with garlic-olive oil-red pepper flakesSautee the minced garlic over a low-medium heat, until the the garlic separates and forms a “Chrysanthemum Flower” in the pan. Do not brown, or burn the garlic. If you do, start this step over. Garlic should be soft, translucent, and sweet, not bitter and crunchy.
  4. Pour the Garlic and Oil mixture into the Saw-Seege Pan.

Step #4 “ Boil Da ‘Priest Ears’”

While all of this is going on, you should have your pasta water ready to go, because finalizing this dish is a timing trick. A quality Imported, 100% durum semolina Orecchiette Pasta will take about 11-12 minutes to get to “Al Dente” consistency.

In a large pot of salted water, pour in the little Priest Ears for approximately five to six minutes, and then finalize the sauce for the remainder of the pasta’s cooking time.

Step #5  Finalize the Sauce

Make sure your “theater of operations” is set. Your serving dishes should be warming in the oven and your rabbies, grated cheese and pepper mill are close at hand. Here’s the final choreography to raise this simple dish to a ballet of deliciousness. This goes fast towards the finish, but with a little practice, you’ll be executing it like Primo in no time!

  1. Pour a cup of wine (and a nudder little splashie for extra measure!) into your saw-seege pan. Turn the heat on high.
  2. Boil off the alcohol and let that mixture reduce for 3-5 minutes, depending on how heavy a hand you had with the wine, El Barracho!
  3. Drain the pasta just before “al dente” status. Give it a loose drain, leaving it somewhat “wet”, and throw it back in the pasta pot.
  4. Add the butter to the steaming pasta, and make sure each little priest ear is coated with buttery yummiosity.
  5. Toss the Rabbies into the now simmering Saw-seege pan, and lightly run heat through them; about 30 seconds to a minute.
  6. Primo and SecondoTake half of the volume of the sausage pan (Rabbies, Sausage, and “The Juice”), and  toss it in with the buttered pasta. Remove the sausage frying pan from the burner and set aside.
  7. Turn the heat under the pasta pan to high, and toss continuously and with great vigor, infusing the pasta with the sauce, butter, and heating it just enough to reach the perfect “al dente” consistency. The heat is set to high, so it’s important to keep it moving!
  8. Pull your serving plates from the oven
  9. Turn the heat off the pasta pan. Plate a serving of the heated pasta mixture.
  10. Top the serving with an additional heaping helping of the sauce mixture. Make sure to get a balanced representation of the Rabbies and Saw-seege, and have a spoon on hand to scoop up the juices. Coat with serving with the reduced wine liquid.
  11. Put some snow on the mountaintop! Liberally sprinkle a snow squall of grated Locatelli cheese over the pasta.
  12. Grind a bit of black pepper to top it all off, say grace, and give thanks in humble gratitude as you serve piping hot.

Orecchiette is the perfect cut of pasta for this dish. Each wine and garlic infused forkful is clothed in a vestment of vibrant green, In every cupped “Priest Ear” is a little surprise of sauce, cheese, or a little sausage crumble that’s trying to avoid its final destination; your extremely satisfied belly!

As Poppa Primo will exclaim before his first bite, “God Bless Baby Jesus!” One taste of this dish, and you’ll know exactly why he says it. You’ll hear a heavenly choir of angels as you savor the flavor of all that is beautiful in this world.

Mangia Bene!

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