Pappardelle with Sausage Ragù and Broccoli Rabe

pappardelle with sausage ragu

Simple recipes that are rustic and impressive are the most rewarding to make because you know everyone will enjoy the meal. Pasta dishes in particular fit that criteria. But you don't have to go out of your way to make a great pasta dish. Instead of homemade pasta, just use good quality store-bought. And the sauce? It doesn't need to take hours to make.

Inspired by a pasta dish I recently had at a friend's holiday party, I decided to create this comforting recipe. It features spicy Italian sausage (to cut down on fat, use lean sausage such as chicken or turkey) and peppery broccoli rabe, which lends lots of texture. It's all served with broad pappardelle, the perfect vehicle for a thick and hearty ragù.

To begin this recipe you only need a few Italian staples, i.e. canned crushed tomatoes and a bag of pasta. The recipe serves at least six plus people, so it's great for a dinner with family and friends. You'll be surprised how easy this recipe is to make especially since it uses ingredients that you might already have at home in your pantry.

Pappardelle with Sausage Ragù and Broccoli Rabe

1 bunch broccoli rabe (about 1 pound), thick stems removed
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 pound Italian sausage (spicy or sweet), casings removed
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup dry white wine
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 small sprig rosemary
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 pound pappardelle
grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

In a large pot of boiling water, blanch broccoli rabe until bright green, about 3 minutes. Remove to a bowl of ice water. Drain and spin dry using a salad spinner. Chop coarsely.

Warm oil in a large Dutch oven set over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until soft and translucent, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add sausage, crumbling with wooden spoon, and brown until no longer pink, about 5 to 8 minutes. Stir in tomato paste to coat all ingredients. Pour in wine to deglaze and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Simmer for about 5 minutes to burn off alcohol. Pour in crushed tomatoes and add rosemary, bay leaf, and Italian seasoning. Bring to a boil and lower to a simmer. Cook until tomato sauce has darkened and thickened, about 10 to 15 minutes.

While the sauce cooks, bring a large pot of water to the boil. Season liberally with salt. Add pappardelle and cook until al dente, stirring now and then to prevent sticking.

Add blanched broccoli rabe to the sauce and rewarm. Drain pasta and add to the sauce. Stir to coat. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese. Yield: 6 servings.