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Rachael's Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe Pesto

Rachael's Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe Pesto


  • Salt

  • 1 large bunch (about ¾ pound) broccoli rabe (rapini)

  • 1 pound orecchiette or other short-cut pasta

  • ¼ cup toasted pistachios or toasted blanched hazelnuts

  • 1 rounded tablespoon 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 cheese

  • ¾ cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese

  • 1/3 to ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)


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.

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.

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 ½ cup of each cheese. Pulse a few more times. With the machine running, gradually stream in the EVOO. Season the pesto with salt.

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.