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Pasta with Italian sausage and broccoli

Time25 minutes
YieldsServes 6
Pasta with Italian sausage and broccoli
(Ifran Kahn / Los Angeles Times)
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This dish is kind of a poster child for culinary flexibility. I’ve made it with broccoli, broccoli rabe and even Chinese broccoli. It’s great with kale. You can use Italian sausage or salt pork, guanciale or prosciutto. You can go meatless with olives and capers (though this is even better with a few salted anchovies thrown in).

Be careful cooking the garlic. Don’t let it scorch. If you see it beginning to go from golden to brown, immediately pull the pan from the heat and add a spoonful of the pasta water to stop the cooking.

From the story: Dinner in the real world

1

Bring a large pot of liberally salted water to a boil. While the water is heating, clean the broccoli: Separate the florets from the stems and set them aside. Remove the tough peel of the stems with a paring knife or vegetable peeler, then cut the stems into half-inch cubes. Remove the casings from the sausage.

2

Warm the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat and crumble the sausage meat into the oil, flattening each piece slightly so it will brown better. Cook until the sausage browns and crisps. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until the garlic turns pale brown, about 5 minutes. Do not let the garlic scorch; if it begins to brown, remove the pan from the heat.

3

Add the pasta and the diced broccoli stems to the boiling water and cook 6 to 7 minutes. Add the broccoli florets and cook until the pasta is tender, about 10 minutes total. Scoop out the pasta and broccoli and drain; keep the water at a boil.

4

Place the skillet over high heat and add the drained broccoli and pasta to the sausage and garlic. Add one-half cup boiling water from the pasta pot. Cook, stirring frequently, until the water mostly boils away, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and a good grinding of black pepper.

5

Divide the pasta evenly among 6 warmed pasta plates and shave pecorino Romano over the top with a vegetable peeler.