Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe Pesto
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Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe Pesto

When it comes to pesto, think beyond basil. Here, broccoli rabe becomes the star of the show.


  • Salt

  • 1 large bunch (about 3/4 lb.) broccoli rabe (rapini)

  • 1 lb. orecchiette or other short-cut pasta

  • ¼ cup toasted pistachios or toasted blanched hazelnuts

  • 1 rounded tbsp. Calabrian chili paste, or 6 to 8 pickled hot cherry pepper rings and a splash of brine

  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed

  • ¾ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

  • ¾ cup grated Pecorino Romano

  • ⅓ to 1/2 cup EVOO


  • Step 1

    Prepare a large bowl of ice water. Bring a pot with a few inches of salted water to a boil. Trim the broccoli rabe of any yellow leaves; cut off the tough ends from the stalks. Cook until crisp-tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain and transfer to the ice water to cool. Drain and pat dry. Chop into bite-size pieces.

  • Step 2

    Meanwhile, bring a fresh pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Salt the water and add the pasta. Cook until 1 minute shy of the package directions.

  • Step 3

    While the pasta cooks, place about two-thirds of the broccoli rabe in a food processor. (Reserve the prettier pieces and small florets to toss with the pasta.) Add the nuts, chili paste, and garlic. Pulse to get the pesto going. Add about 1/2 cup of each cheese. Pulse a few more times. With the machine running, gradually stream in the EVOO. Season the pesto with salt.

  • Step 4

    One minute before draining the pasta, add the reserved broccoli rabe to the pot with the pasta to heat it through. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water. Drain the pasta and broccoli rabe; return to the pot. Add the pesto and cooking water. Toss until coated. Divide among 4 shallow bowls. Top with the remaining cheeses.

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