Rigatoni Pugliese

As far as hearty pasta dishes go, this one really hits the spot.  It has a smooth, rich texture created by chickpea puree instead of butter and cream.  So it has the full-bodied, earthy flavor without a lot of fat…and honestly you don’t even miss the richness of a lot of butter.  It is surely one of our favorites on a crisp fall evening.

For the sauce, you will need:
1 15-ounce can chickpeas
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound spicy Italian sausage
3 cups basic tomato sauce (we use a jar)
1/2 teaspoon ground fennel seed

For the broccoli rabe & rigatoni, you will need:
1 bunch broccoli rate, cleaned of outer leaves and bottom stems trimmed
1 pound rigatoni
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
salt & pepper

To finish the dish, you will need:
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup grated pecorino romano cheese

To prepare the sauce:
Drain the chickpeas well, reserving the liquid.  Blend half the chickpeas (about 1 cup) and all their liquid on high until the mixture forms a smooth paste; about 1 minute.

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over high heat.  Squeeze the sausage out of the casing and add the meat to the pan.  Brown it, stirring regularly and breaking the meat up into small pieces.  Add the tomato sauce and stir to combine.

Add the chickpea puree and the fennel seed; stir to combine.  Cook over medium heat  until the mixture forms a loose sauce and the flavors are combined; about 15 minutes.

To prepare the broccoli rate and rigatoni:
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Blanch the broccoli rate until the stems are just softened and the color has deepened, about 90 seconds.  Remove with a slotted spoon to a bowl of ice water to immediately stop the cooking process.

Return the water to a boil, add the rigatoni, and cook until its al dente.  Drain but do not rinse the pasta.

Warm the olive oil over medium-high heat in a medium sauté pan.  Add the broccoli rate, garlic, red pepper flakes, and the remaining half of the chickpeas.  Season with salt and pepper and sauté until the greens are well coated, about 1 minute.

To finish the dish:
Return the rigatoni to the pot.  Add the sauce and cook on medium-high heat, mixing well, until the pasta is well coated, about 1 minute.  Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the butter, olive oil, and half of the cheese.  Transfer the pasta and sauce to a large serving dish nd pour the broccoli rate and chickpea mixture over the top.  Top with the rest of the cheese and serve immediately.

Serves: 6
Time: 30 minutes
From: Andrew Carmellini’s Urban Italian

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