This recipe comes straight out of Nonna's kitchen (well actually she's Bella's Nonna). The broccoli and oil in this forms almost a sauce which is accentuated by the spice from the sausage and seasonings. There's also cheese and garlic, what more could you want. This was the perfect way to start out Bella's week of pasta dishes that was her birthday present from me. Check it out!
1 lb Rigatoni (Bella likes Mezzi Rigatoni)
2 lbs broccoli florets
2 lbs hot sausage
1 medium-large onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
6 oz of shaved or shredded parmesan (Parmigiano-Reggiano would be better if you have it)
Extra Virgin Olive oil (use as much as your Italian ancestors tell you, but like usually 1/4 cup ish)
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp red pepper flakes (Bella likes 3 tsp better but she's crazy)
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp italian seasoning
2-3 tsp salt (or to taste)
1 tsp pepper
Boil your broccoli in salted water until very soft but still vibrant green (if you boil wayyy too much it will get kinda grey/brown). Remove using fine mesh strainer, leaving broccoli water in the pot and putting broccoli in separate bowl. Add an extra pinch of salt and cook your pasta in that water (save 1-2 cups of the pasta water for use in a bit). Meanwhile, brown sausage in a large pan over medium/high heat. When it is nice and brown, add in a bit of olive oil and all your onions until they are softened and then the garlic. Now you add in all your seasonings and then broccoli. Now is time to use your heart and drizzle in olive oil to desired consistency. The broccoli should be falling apart and you should be getting a nice green-ish sauce. Let this heat through and combine for about 15 min over low or medium-low heat.
Stir in your lemon zest and juice and your cheese until the cheese is melty throughout. Adjust seasoning as desired.
Improvements, changes, and whimsey
I have made this with chicken sausage and cut down on the oil/cheese for a much healthier version. It is good, but not the treat that the original recipe is.
Consider taking out ~25% of the broccoli when it is still firm-ish and add it back in when you add the cheese for big broccoli pieces but still the nice sauce.
If you are a spice lover, add more red pepper but make sure you add it early in the cooking process because it takes some time to extract those flavors.
Try topping with some fresh basil
What other pasta dishes do you think are coming this week?