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Ok pasta lovers, are you ready to take a break from your favorite red sauce? Hopefully you are, because here goes one of my all time favorite dishes: Orecchiette with Pancetta and Broccoli di rabe. This dish is packed with great flavor and is a great alternative to traditional pasta with sauce. It does take a few more steps to get it all done, but in the end, I actually think this is an easier dish to master than homemade tomato sauce.
Although the recipe has several components and may seem complex and intimidating, don’t let it fool you. Follow the steps below and give it try. I promise you’re only a few bunches of broccoli di rabe and some Italian bacon away from a quick and delicious home cooked weeknight meal. I also have a few time saving tips below to get it all done quickly without sacrificing flavor.
Besides a little ingredient planning there’s not much to it…
By using a few time saving techniques and working systematically you can have this meal on the table in under 30 minutes.
- use the same water to blanch the broccoli and cook the pasta. This will cut the cooking time down and add a little extra flavor to your pasta too.
- use the same saute pan to render down the pancetta and saute the broccoli rabe.
If you follow the steps below it will work like a well oiled machine … or in this case olive oiled machine 🙂
1.The key to making this dish is cleaning and pre cooking the broccoli di rabe just right. Trimming away a lot of the excess leaves and blanching in hot boiling water first is the best way to prepare the broccoli. Carefully remove the broccoli di rabe with a slotted spoon (in otherwise do not drain it), then bring the water back to a boil and then add the pasta. Place the broccoli in a bowl and let it cool a few moments. In the meantime chop up the pancetta and then render it down in a large saute pan over medium heat. By the time the pancetta is nice and crisp the broccoli is cool enough to place onto a cutting board and chop into bite size pieces.
2. Next, remove the pancetta from the pan and set it a aside to drain on a plate lined with paper towel. Reheat the same pan on medium heat with the olive oil and chopped garlic. As the garlic starts to turn color add the broccoli rabe to the pan. Give it a quick saute, return the pancetta to the pan, and mix all together. Once combined well, add the stock and white wine o the pan (I use sweet wine) and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. This should only take a few minutes. By then your pasta should be al-dente and ready to be drained, and tossed into the liquid.
*Personally, I don’t like to cook in too much of the bacon fat so I drain it off, but I keep the flavor by not washing the pan.
3. Combine all the ingredients together and then throw in a few handfuls of grated parmesan cheese on top, toss again and serve.
With this dish it’s all about the timing. If you follow the systematic steps of the recipe you it will work for you like a well oiled machine, well in this case olive oiled machine 🙂 Happy cooking and enjoy!
Orecchiette with Pancetta and Broccoli di Rabe
- 1/2 lb orecchiette pasta
- 2 bunches of broccoli di rabe cleaned of excess leaves
- 4 oz of Pancetta
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 4 cloves crushed garlic
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 3/4 cups of chicken stock or pasta water
- Grated parmesan for flavor
- 1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and then blanch the broccoli rabe until just al dente. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside to cool. Once cool rough chop the broccoli into bite size pieces. Bring the pot of water back to a boil (add more salt if needed) and cook the orecchiette until desired doneness is reached.
- 2. Slice (or dice) the pancetta and then render down over medium heat in a large saute pan. Set aside to cool when crisp.
- 3. Drain the excess fat from the pan; add the olive oil and chopped garlic to the pan and saute on medium heat. Return the chopped brocoli di rabe to the pan as soon as the garlic starts to change color. Saute for a few minutes and then add the pancetta.
- 4. After combining the pancetta with the broccoli di rabe add white wine and stock. Bring to a simmer. Drain the pasta and add to the simmering sauce.
- 5. Toss with grated Parmesan or Romano Cheese