At Rao's, Italian sausage is usually added to this pasta—but since author McNamee already had penne with cabbage and sausage on the table, the kitchen served him this simpler version.
2 lbs. broccoli rabe, stems removed
l lb. orecchiette pasta
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
7 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated pecorino romano
1. Place broccoli rabe in a deep saucepan and cover with cold salted water. Bring to a simmer over high heat. When bubbles appear, remove from heat. Drain; plunge broccoli rabe into ice water, drain again, pat dry, and set aside.
2. Cook orecchiette in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender but firm, 7–12 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat and sauté garlic until fragrant and just golden, about 3 minutes. Add broccoli rabe, season to taste with salt and pepper, and cook until warmed through, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low and keep warm until pasta is ready.
4. Drain pasta, add to broccoli rabe, and toss to mix well. Remove from heat, transfer to a platter, and serve with grated pecorino romano.