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This is a really easy and satisfying pasta dish that was definitely a hit in our house. It is basically a melding of two recipes that I found in At Home with Magnolia: Classic American Recipes from the Owner of Magnolia Bakery by Allysa Torey.
As I said, this a combination of 2 recipes because I originally made the sun dried tomato pesto for a different cold pasta salad that I never prepared. Torey notes in her book that this pesto will stay in the fridge for up to 6 weeks. In fact, I think it really benefits from a few days of down time. When I pulled it out to make this dish the pesto had mellowed nicely and had a better flavor than when I first made it. The pesto recipe, which I have adapted since making this the first time can be found here.
Now, on to the main event. I purchased some ricotta Cavatelli which you can find in the freezer section of your grocery store. The package I bought was 16 oz which I think will comfortably feed 4 people.
This recipe calls for Broccoli Rabe, which I had never actually cooked with before. This is mainly because I don’t think that I really like broccoli rabe, but I was feeling adventurous. I bought what appeared to be said item at the grocery store, but I found after a quick Google search that what I actually bought was broccolini. Sometimes, I am dumb.
Anybroccoli, I still blanched the broccolini for 3 minutes and plunged into an ice bath. I don’t know if it was totally necessary since it’s not bitter like the b-rabe, but it did tenderize it a bit so all it needed later was a few minutes of sauté.
In a medium sized shallow Dutch oven I sautéed up 3 turkey sausages (1 mild & 2 hot), casings removed, until cooked through and then added a ton of minced garlic. This recipe calls for a lot of garlic, which I love. I always at least double the amount of garlic in any recipe I use, but I did not have to do that here. I then added the dry broccolini and cooked for a few more minutes. Torey’s recipe calls for adding in crushed tomatoes, which I substituted with the sun dried tomato pesto. I added this into the mixture to warm and then added the drained but still hot Cavatelli and tossed so all the pasta was coated. I topped with grated parmigiano and a drizzle of good finishing olive oil (straight from Italy thanks to our friend Dianna).
This pasta was a great blend of flavors and textures. The ricotta Cavatelli were creamy and mild with a chewy bite to it. The brocolini added a freshness and lightness that balanced out the heaviness of the pesto and the sausage. I don’t think you lose any flavor by using turkey instead of pork sausages. Of course, that will depend somewhat on where you get your sausages. These particular sausages were from the Whole Foods meat counter which is the only other place I will buy sausage besides a good butcher shop. The sun dried tomato pesto gave the dish a unique taste with nice nutty undertones from the almonds and parmigiano reggiano. I was concerned that using the pesto would make this dish too oily, and it was oily but in a pleasant way. I think it would have been alright with the crushed tomatoes, but it would certainly have had a different taste. I think that pesto in general has a distinct flavor and texture and that definitely came through.