I honestly can’t remember the first time I was introduced to broccoli rabe (or broccoli raab or rapini, depending on who you ask). All I know is that one day my mom came home with this pre-sauteed olive oil-y container of green stuff from the Italian grocer and mixed it with pasta and browned pork sausage. I wish I could say it was love at first bite, but I hated it. It was just too bitter for my naive and immature taste buds and so for the longest time, she would cook up a kid’s version for my brother and I without the greens. As I got older, however, the taste grew on me and it is now one of my absolute favorite things! Unfortunately, while broccoli rabe is readily available in every New York supermarket, it is pretty hard to find in Boston. My mother attributes this to the fact that “there are no Italians in Boston”. But what about the ENTIRE North End, I asked her, surely it must be around somewhere. Finally, it got to the point where I was really craving it, and so I made a special trip to Whole Foods, figuring that they HAD to carry it. Thankfully, I was right, and so I whipped up a version of it that is based on Giada’s recipe. It was as good as my mom’s version, possibly even better because I cooked the broccoli rabe myself. To go with it, I roasted some asparagus with balsamic vinegar, which was also really good. This will be my entry to both Weekend Herb Blogging, which is being hosted this week by Susan of The Well-Seasoned Cook, and Ruth’s Presto Pasta Nights, which is being hosted this week by Wiffy of Noob Cook.

Other news of the week: my slow cooker has arrived! It is my birthday next week (Feb 25) and I will be 22. Because she loves me dearly, my roommate bought me a slow cooker and so get ready for some (hopefully) great recipes to come. If you have any suggestions, let me know!

Shells with Turkey Sausage and Broccoli Rabe
Serves 4, adapted from Giada de Laurentis

1 lb whole wheat shell pasta
3 links sweet Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
1 lb broccoli rabe
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
5 cloves garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup parmesan cheese

1. Start to boil two pots of salted water – one for the pasta and one for the broccoli rabe.

2. In a non-stick skillet, heat the olive oil. Remove the turkey sausage from its casings and sautee until brown, using a spatula to separate it into little “crumbs” as you do so. When it is just about done, add in the garlic and saute on low for a few minutes.

3. Once the water(s) are boiling, add in the broccoli rabe and pasta, respectively. Cook the broccoli rabe in the boiling water for 1-2 minutes or until reaches desired level of tenderness. Drain well and mix into pan with sausage/garlic. Add salt and pepper to taste, as well as red pepper flakes.

4. Mix together pasta, parmesan cheese, and sausage/broccoli rabe mixture.

Balsamic Roasted Asparagus
Serves 4
2 lb asparagus
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray a roasting pan with PAM/cooking spray.
2. Cut the stalky ends off the asparagus and place in pan. Spray with PAM. Top with salt, pepper, and balsamic vinegar. Roast for 10-15 minutes.

You are reading this post on Eats Well With Others at https://joanne-eatswellwithothers.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of Eats Well With Others. All rights reserved by Joanne Bruno.
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10 Responses to Meals From My Childhood: Shells with Turkey Sausage and Broccoli Rabe, and Balsamic Roasted Asparagus

  1. Susan says:

    My mouth waters just thinking about that rabe bitterness with the aged tang of balsamic vinegar.

    Thank you for a great recipe to share with WHB!

  2. laurajane says:

    Mmm, that looks good. And what a great gift – slow cookers are so handy.

  3. Ruth says:

    Happy birthday and what a great gift. The broccoli rabe pasta looks awesome. It’s also hard to find here in Halifax Nova Scotia…but I always keep my eye out for it.

    Thanks for sharing with Presto Pasta Night.

  4. noobcook says:

    I love the step by step photos, the final dish looks delicious! Thanks for sharing with PPN this week =)

  5. Kevin says:

    What a nice and simple and tasty and healthy meal.

  6. Natashya says:

    I love broccoli rabe too – unfortunately it is one of the only things that hubby doesn’t like. He is sensitive to the bitterness. I love it with garlic and balsamic..mmm..
    Your dish has so many great flavours – looks delish!

  7. Joanne says:

    Susan – It was a great combination of flavors…two Italian classics in one night!

    Laurajane – Thanks for the comment! I have a feeling its going to be one of those things that, in a few weeks, I won’t be able to remember how I lived without it.

    Ruth – Thanks! I was glad I found it…definitely worth the effort.

    Noobcook – Thank YOU for hosting!

    Kevin – Thanks for the comment…sometimes simple flavors are the best ones.

    Natashya – It is good in so many ways! I’m glad I discovered that Whole Foods has it so that I can make so many other things with it.

  8. yumm…looks delicious! I’ve never had broccoli rabe before and can’t seem to find it anywhere here.

  9. KC says:

    Looks very good. And so healthy too

  10. Donna-FFW says:

    Broccoli rabe is a favorite here. I love it paired with pasta and sausage as you did. Looks delicious, and the asparagus, 5 stars!

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