You pasta-lovers out there may have already known that "Orecchiette" translates as "little ears." But you might not know that the shape is the signature pasta of the humble farmland of Puglia (the 'heel' part of Italy's 'boot'). Dome-shaped Orechiette is perfect for scooping up fresh Puglian veggies and hearty sauces. The signature pastas of other parts of Italy – like Casarecce from Sicily and Spaghetti alla Chitarra from Abruzzo – also pair beautifully with ingredients native to their regions.
You can take a culinary tour of Italy with Barilla® Collezione, premium specialty pastas inspired by the regions of Italy that will inspire you to add a little Italian magic to your kitchen. We suggest starting with this amazing Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe and Sausage.
Hitting grocery shelves nationwide this month, Barilla® Collezione features five pastas from five different regions of Italy: Puglia's Orecchiette, Lazio's lengthy Bucatini, Sicily's bite-sized Casarecce, Abruzzo's square-shaped Spaghetti alla Chitarra and Sardinia's pillowy Gnocchetti. Each is extruded through bronze dies to lend a like-homemade texture. And, because it's made with high-quality semolina and durum wheat, the pasta cooks up perfectly "al dente," holding its consistency and flavor.
This Broccoli Rabe and Sausage recipe combines the earthy bitterness of the greens and the sweet heat of the meat and red pepper flakes for a mouth-watering dish you'll want to make again and again. And you can try out our chef's expert tip: cook the broccoli rabe in water with a teaspoon of baking soda to ensure that your greens hold onto their vibrant color through the cooking process. The "little ears" grab onto the cheesy sauce, giving you rich flavor in every mouthful.
Whip up this recipe, then head to Barilla for more recipes straight from the Italian countryside.
Barilla® Collezione Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe & Sausage
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 bunches broccoli rabe, thick stems discarded
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 pound Italian sausage, crumbled
2 garlic cloves, sliced
red pepper flakes to taste
1 box Barilla Collezione Orecchiette
1/2 cup Romano cheese, grated
Bring two 1-gallon pots of water to a boil.
In the first pot, add a bit of salt and the baking soda. Cook broccoli rabe tops for 10 minutes, then drain and set aside. When cool, chop roughly.
Meanwhile, add 2 tablespoons olive oil to a skillet and sauté sausage over high heat until brown. Add garlic and red pepper and cook for one minute. Stir in cooked broccoli rabe.
In the second pot, cook pasta two minutes less than package directions. Drain, reserving some of the cooking water. Toss pasta and sauce in a skillet with some cooking water until the sauce is coating the pasta and pasta is perfectly cooked. Stir in cheese and remaining olive oil before serving.
(Image credits: Nealey Dozier)