12ozItalian sausagepreferably a variety flavored with fennel seed
1 cuppanko breadcrumbs
1/2 cupoilI like to use a 50/50 blend of extra virgin olive oil to grapeseed
6ounceswild raabsor rapini/broccoli raab
Crushed red pepper flakesto taste (it should be quite spicy)
Kosher saltas needed
12anchovy filets preserved in oil
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Blanch the raabs for 30 seconds, then remove and shock in an ice bath to preserve their color. Drain the raabs thoroughly and squeeze out any water, chop roughly and reserve.
For the pasta, begin by heating a large saute pan (12 inches is good) add a tbsp of the oil and brown the sausage on medium heat, breaking it into small clumps with a wooden spoon. Remove the sausage from the pan, reserve the sausage.
Do not clean the pan. In the pan the sausage was cooked, add the anchovy, along with the rest of the oil on medium heat, stirring occasionally until the anchovy filets dissolve. Add the breadcrumbs and stir to coat with the mixture, cook on low-medium heat until the breadcrumbs are golden brown. Add the sausage back to the pan.
Bring a pot of salted water to a rolling boil, then add the orrechiette. Stir the pasta vigorously during cooking since orrechiette is notorious for sticking together, which causes it to cook unevenly.
When the pasta is cooked al dente, drain it completely, tossing in the colander to remove water, then add to the pan with the sausage and crumbs. Add the chopped rapini, chilli flakes to taste depending on how spicy you like things, (I would add about 1/4 tsp for 4 people.) and some more olive oil if the pan starts to look dry.
Heat the mixture just to take the chill off of the rapini, then serve immediately. If this pasta isn't eaten right trapped steam will destroy the crunch, which is part of what makes it so interesting.