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Rach uses classic Italian sausage seasonings—garlic, fennel and chiles—to flavor the broccoli rabe in this hearty vegetarian pasta she makes for her mom Elsa, who went vegetarian last year.
For meat-lovers like her husband John, she adds actual hot Italian sausage.
Watch Drew Barrymore cook with Rach from the set of her show, The Drew Barrymore Show, in the video above.
Bring 3 to 4 inches of water to a boil in a deep, wide skillet or pot. When water boils, add salt. Drop in trimmed broccoli rabe and parboil about 3 minutes, then transfer to iced bath of cold water to shock and stop the cooking process, drain and dry. Chop into bite-sized pieces. This may be done well ahead of pasta preparation.
Heat a large pot of water to a boil for pasta with a minimum of 4 quarts of water. When water comes to a full boil, add a liberal amount of salt to season the water and the pasta itself. It should taste like the sea. Add pasta and undercook it 1 to 2 minutes according to package directions to allow for carryover cooking. The pasta will continue to cook once added to the broccoli rabe. When you are ready to drain the pasta, reserve 1 cup or half a mug of pasta cooking water.
If you're using sausage in your preparation, heat a medium nonstick skillet over medium high heat as well with a drizzle of oil. Add meat and brown and crumble while you cook the broccoli rabe.
Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat with EVOO, 4 turns of the pan. Add broccoli rabe and heat through 2 minutes, then add shallot or onion, garlic, preserved lemon, thyme, and fennel seed or pollen, stir a minute more then add Calabrian paste or fresh chili, toss. Add starchy cooking water, drained pasta, cheese, and pickled chilies, if using. Add sausage, if using, draining off excess fat if you choose to. Toss the pasta 1 to 2 minutes more, serve in shallow bowls.