Rigatoni with homemade sausage and broccoli rabe

By Vanessa Gianfrancesco
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  • 1 large head broccoli rabe, washed and ends trimmed
  • 500 grams rigatoni rigati
  • 500 grams lean ground pork meat
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fennel pollen
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili flake
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon course ground pepper
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 1/2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, grated (save some for garnish)
  • 1/2 cup Pecorino Romano, grated (save some for garnish)


  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt liberally. Blanch the broccoli rabe for two to three minutes. Remove and place into an ice bath. Wring out the excess water from the broccoli rabe and chop into five centimeter pieces.
  2. Using the same pot of boiling water cook the rigatoni according to the package instructions and strain one to two minutes shy of cooked aldente. (we do this because the pasta will continue to cook once we mix everything together). Prior to straining the pasta reserve one cup cooking water.
  3. In a cast iron skillet warm olive oil and place in the pork. Add the fennel seeds, fennel pollen, chili flakes, onion powder, garlic, salt and pepper. Let the pork cook for at least two minutes before beginning to turn it to allow a nice golden crust to form. Once the pork is cooked add in the broccoli rabe and cook for two minutes. Then add in the pasta, lemon zest, cheese and cooking water. Allow the mixture to cook an extra two to three minutes until all the flavors are combined and the pasta is cooked perfectly!


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