Rigatoni Pugliese

Over the weekend I checked out Urban Italian: Simple Recipes and True Stories from a Life in Food from the library, and so far, it's an exceptional book for authentic Italian recipes. This is my first recipe attempt from the book.
I always start with something simple with new or unfamiliar authors. At first glance, this recipe seemed like "spaghetti with some beans in it" but as I was cooking I began to notice the layers of flavors and textures I was assembling.

First, I started off by draining a can of chick peas and keeping the juice. Get a big pot of water boiling too.

Take about half the chick peas and all of the juice and put it into the food processor to make a paste. Mine was more of a soup - I think the chick pea company is starting to skimp out.

A sauce pan full of homemade marinara magically appears on my stove.

I removed the casings from 4 Italian sausages and brown them on the stove. I tried to keep large chunks for bigger bites. Considering sausages come in packs of 5, this means I have one left to use on pizza this Saturday, happy day.

My grandma (Gramma) recently taught me that usually this kind of meat is full of water depending on the quality of it. You can tell because it doesn't brown even through steady cooking at medium-high for several minutes. Sure, it cooks, but it doesn't get that nice crispy brown crust on the outside. You have to cook all of the water out before that happens. Watch it closely.

Also, I usually use turkey sausages because there's less fat and none of those little grisly bits, but this sausage turned out quite tasty with minimal fatty grisly bits - perhaps it's because I cooked it properly.

I use our old coffee grinder to grind spices because we don't use it to grind coffee anymore. This is ground fennel seed. Smell that?!

When the sausage is finished (drain the extra fat) add the chick pea mixture to your red sauce, add the ground fennel seed, and finally, add your Italian sausage. Let this simmer for a bit.

My big pot of water is boiling, so it's time to blanch my broccoli. The recipe calls for broccoli rabe, but good luck finding that around here.

 After 90 seconds of boiling the broccoli gets plunged into ice water to stop the cooking process. Get your water boiling again if it's not and get your pasta going. You'll want it al dente at about 6 minutes.

In the same skillet as the Italian sausage, saute over medium heat the broccoli, the remaining chick peas (you know, the other half of the can that didn't go into the food processor) and two cloves of garlic sliced Goodfellas thin (what an awesome cookbook). Red pepper too, but we have Kiddo eating tonight.

Pasta has been cooked and drained. You'll notice this is the world's smallest rigatoni. I had to use penne because the Wal~Mart wasn't expecting a run on rigatoni this week.

Mix together pasta with sauce, add 2T of butter, 2 tsp of olive oil (we omitted because neither my wife or I can eat it) and 1 cup of Pecorino cheese (I used about a half a cup of Parmesan).

Pour the chick pea / broccoli mixture over the top. Serve and add a little more cheese to the top.

It was pretty easy to make but used a lot of pots. I really liked the chick peas in the sauce because it added a thickness and richness that isn't heavy cream or fat - apparently that's fairly common in the Pugliese region of Italy. The broccoli was crisp and picked up the flavor of the garlic; I wish I had used more. The Italian sausage was very flavorful and tender, and I think the added fennel added that nice little kick of seasoning. Overall, this was a great pasta dish and I'll probably add chick peas to my sauce on those nights I'm just playing with ingredients.

Recipe for the Sauce:
1 15oz can chick peas
1/4C + 2T olive oil
1 pound Italian sausage (spicy if you want)
3 Cups Red Sauce (he says to make his sauce out of the book, but your favorite spaghetti sauce should be fine.) Here is My Recipe for Marinara derived from Giada.
1/2 teaspoon ground fennel seed

Sauce Directions:
Drain the chick peas reserving the liquid. Blend half the chick peas and all their liquid until mixture forms a smooth paste.

Heat oil in large saucepan over high heat. Remove sausage from casing and brown. Add tomato sauce and stir to combine. Add the chick pea puree and fennel seeds. Stir to combine. Cook over medium heat about 15 minutes.

Recipe for the Broccoli Rabe and Rigatoni:
1 bunch broccoli rabe, cleaned of outer leaves and bottom stems trimmed
1 pound rigatoni
2 T olive oil
1 clove garlic, sliced Goodfellas thin
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
salt and pepper

Broccoli Rabe and Rigatoni Directions:
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water. Blanch the broccoli rabe until the stems are just softened and the color deepened, about 90 seconds. Remove broccoli rabe to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.

Return water to a boil. Add rigatoni and cook till al dente. Drain but do not rinse the pasta.

Warm the olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add broccoli rabe, garlic, red pepper flakes, and the remaining chick peas. Season with salt and pepper.

Finishing Ingredients:
2T butter
2 tsp olive oil
1 C grated pecorino cheese

Finish the Dish Directions:
Return the rigatoni to the pot. Add the sauce and cook on medium-high heat, mixing well, until the pasta is coated.

Remove pot from heat. Add butter, oil and half of the pecorino cheese.

Transfer pasta and sauce to a large serving bowl and pour the broccoli rabe mixture over the top along with the remaining pecorino cheese.

That's all I've got for tonight - time to do all of those dishes! Have fun all.


  1. So basically you got an idea for dinner and then didn't follow the recipe at all. lols.

    ps: I had one grisly gristle in mine :P

  2. Really looks good - and almost too healthy to eat...

  3. I see it and it looks delicious! What a great combination of flavors you have there!

  4. This looks like an amazing pasta dish!

  5. Bump in here through food buzz...that pasta looks awesome!!! keep up ur blog is great :)

  6. I am all for "Modifying" recipes. They should be experimented with. Looks like the end result was delish!

  7. Absolutely! Those cookbook authors are a bunch of hacks! What do they know? :D

    Thanks Green!

  8. I love this unique recipe. I don't think I've ever had chickpeas in Italian cooking before....though I love them! This looks just wonderful! (And I use my coffee grinder for spices, too...don't you just love how easy that is?!) I look forward to trying this recipe! : )