When I was a little Coco, shells were my favorite pasta variety. I preferred them slathered in Velveeta with some Kraft parm in the green shake bottle sprinkled on top. Today, I still love shells, or conchiglie, but my taste buds have fortunately grown up with the rest of me. This recipe is a riff on a classic pasta combo, orecchiette with sausage and rabe. I recently discovered Banza chickpea pasta and swapped their delish protein packed shells in for the traditional orecchiette (of course, you can use regular pasta shells here as well- just make sure they aren’t the jumbo sized ones). I lighten this dish with chicken sausage instead of pork, and I add sun-dried tomatoes for some sweet acidity. If you can’t find broccoli rabe, also called Rapini, you can try kale instead. Spinach would also be delicious, but there would be no need to blanche it in the pot before adding it to the sauce. This recipe goes from yummy to OMG with the addition of dolloped burrata on top right before serving. It’s hard not to be SHELLfish and eat this whole dish by yourself, but it’s best shared family style partnered with a couple bottles of vino and a loaf of crusty bread.
prep time: ~15 min. cook time: ~12 min. serves: 4
8 oz of medium sized pasta shells (I used Banza chickpea shells in this recipe)
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 lb Italian chicken sausage (mild, hot, or a combo)
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 cup drained and minced sundried tomatoes
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 bundle of broccoli rabe (also called rapini), washed, stemmed, and cut into 2” pieces
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
1 ball of burrata
chopped fresh basil, for serving
Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Add the pasta to the boiling water and set the timer until 2 minutes shy of al dente (according to package directions). While the pasta cooks, make the sauce. Heat the olive oil in a heavy bottomed skillet. When the oil is hot, add the sausage and cook until brown, breaking it up with a wooden spoon as it sautés. Add the sundried tomatoes, red chili flakes, and garlic to the browned sausage and stir to combine. Cook the mixture about 2 minutes then deglaze the pan with the chicken stock and season with 1/2 tsp more salt.
When the timer goes off, add the broccoli rabe to the same pot with the pasta and cook another 2 minutes. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Drain the pasta and rabe when it’s done, and add it directly to the sauce along with the reserved pasta water and 1/2 cup of the Parmesan. Stir to combine until the sauce is thick, and check for seasoning. To serve, tear the burrata into pieces and scatter evenly over the shells, sausage, and rabe. Sprinkle with the chopped basil and additional parmesan. Serve immediately!