Rumor has it that this summer has been one of the coolest on record in the San Francisco Bay area with even more fog than usual. Luckily, we missed most of it, but I am not gloating. Instead, we witnessed record breaking heat and torrential rains in Europe, 100 percent humidity on the East coast and the excuse to wear fleece in Iceland. This has, indeed, been a season of extreme weather (although, for Iceland, I think extreme is more the norm).
Now we are home and experiencing some of that chilly San Francisco weather, but I can’t say that I mind. After all, summer is winding down, school is starting, and my New England DNA has me programmed to look forward to a brisk autumn season. Not only does the fresh air beget fires and woolies, it also invites cozy, rustic cooking. And what better way to start the season than with a casual, comforting Sunday supper?
Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe
The heat of sausage mingles with earthy broccoli rabe and sweet red bell pepper. I like to serve this dish straight from the skillet, accompanied by a salad of mixed greens, fresh country-style bread and a glass of Côtes du Rhône. Serves 4.
1 pound orecchiette pasta
1/2 pound broccoli rabe, washed, ends trimmed
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 pound hot Italian sausage, crumbled
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 red bell pepper, stemmed and seeded, diced
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus extra for serving:
Cook pasta in a large pot of salted, boiling water until al dente; drain and set aside.
While the pasta is cooking, bring another large pot of salted water to boil. Add broccoli rabe and blanch 30 seconds; drain. Plunge broccoli rabe into a bowl of ice water. Cool and drain again. Lay in one layer on a kitchen towel to thoroughly dry. Cut in 1″ pieces.
Heat one tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add crumbled sausage to the skillet. Sauté over medium heat until golden brown and cooked through. Transfer sausage to a plate lined with a paper towel.
Pour off all but one tablespoon of accumulated oil in the skillet. Add garlic and crushed red pepper flakes. Sauté until fragrant, 30 seconds. Add red bell pepper, broccolil rabe, pepper and salt. Sauté one minute. Add sausage and cook until heated through.
Remove skillet from heat. Add cooked pasta and cheese to the skillet; toss to combine. Serve with additional grated cheese on the side.