Home - Dinner - Pasta - Sausage and Broccoli Rabe Rigatoni Pasta

Sausage and Broccoli Rabe Rigatoni Pasta

4.86 from 14 community reviews

Did you know you can easily save your favorite recipes? Create an account or log in to get started.

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.

This robust sausage and broccoli rabe pasta recipe combines a spicy garlic and olive oil sauce with crumbled, browned Italian sausage, broccoli rabe (rapini), chili pepper, and pecorino cheese. Learn how to make this easy pasta dinner at home in just 35 minutes.

Rigatoni pasta with sausage and broccoli rabe in a bowl, with a fork and bowl of chili flakes next to it.

Spicy rigatoni pasta made with Italian sausage is one of the best family-friendly, meal-in-one-bowl pasta dinner recipes you can make.

With a big handful of my favorite hearty greens, broccoli rabe, in every bite, you have a delicious, nutritious meal in one bowl!

This an Italian-style pasta dish that’s pretty much on nonstop weekly rotation in our house, along other easy pasta dinner recipes like homemade fettuccine Alfredo and pasta with broccoli sauce.

About broccoli rabe

Broccoli rabe — also called rapini — is a dark, leafy green in the Brassica family, with a robust, bitter flavor. Bundles of broccoli rabe were a regular sight when I was growing up in an Italian-American family in New England. It’s a classic veggie to pair in sausage broccoli pasta recipes.

Broccoli rabe has entered the mainstream and is more available in markets all over the country. Thank goodness, because this leafy green vegetable is full of flavor and nutrients.

Close up image of raw broccoli rapini greens.

My grandmother usually put a bowl of super long-cooked broccoli rabe on the table on Sundays to satisfy those in the family who enjoyed its distinctive taste.

A California produce company came up with the fantastic idea to sell this one-time niche vegetable as a superfood on par with kale. It’s definitely gained traction in the food world, showing up not only in Italian cuisine, but in recipes inspired by global cooking.

A bowl of pasta with sausage and broccoli rabe in a bowl, with a linen napkin, fork and dish of chili pepper alongside.

How to prepare and cook broccoli rabe (rapini)

  • Trim off the bottom tough stems of the broccoli rabe, reserving the more tender upper stems.
  • Lay the bunch on your cutting board and chop the greens and stems all into large bite-size pieces.
  • Blanch the greens for one or two minutes in boiling salted water.
  • Drain and add to your pasta recipe, or briefly cook in a skillet with olive oil, garlic and a pinch of red chili.

Tips and variations

  • Instead of broccoli rabe, try making this pasta with other leafy vegetables you have on hand, like spinach or kale.
  • Use any other short pasta noodle types you enjoy, such as orecchiette, penne or ziti.
  • Learn more about broccoli rabe with a simple recipe and shopping tips.
  • I added chopped fennel bulb to this sausage pasta recipe to double down on the flavors in Italian sausage, which is often seasoned with fennel seeds. It tastes so good with everything else in the dish — garlic, chili, pasta, olive oil. But I know that fresh fennel is not always available. Not to worry! The dish will taste fantastic without it.
  • If you can find Pecorino Toscano in your market, use it! It’s a sheep’s milk cheese a lot like aged Romano, only it’s less aged and not quite as salty. It’s a little more melty in texture and delicious to use in pasta dishes. Parmesan cheese is always a good option.

Sausage and Broccoli Rabe Rigatoni Pasta

Karen Tedesco
This robust sausage and broccoli rabe pasta recipe combines a spicy garlic and olive oil sauce with crumbled, browned Italian sausage, broccoli rabe (rapini), chili pepper, and pecorino cheese. Learn how to make this easy pasta dinner at home in just 35 minutes.
Print Pin
4.86 from 14 community reviews
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Pasta
Cuisine Italian
Servings 6 servings

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 ¼ pounds (560 g) bulk Italian sausage, hot or sweet, made with pork, turkey or chicken
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) dry white wine
  • 1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 small (225 g) fennel bulb, thinly sliced (optional)
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • ½-1 teaspoon crushed red pepper, to taste
  • 1 bunch broccoli rabe (rapini), stems trimmed
  • 1 pound (450 g) rigatoni, or other short chunky pasta such as orecchiette
  • ½ cup (75 g) grated pecorino Romano cheese, or an equal mixture of grated fresh pecorino Romano and Parmesan cheeses
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Instructions 

  • Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large (12-14-inch) skillet over medium-high heat. Crumble the sausage and add to the pan. Cook until the sausage is cooked and browned, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes. Scoop out the sausage to a plate.
  • Pour the wine in the pan and let it bubble for a minute, while scraping up the brown juices. Lower the heat and add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Stir in the red onion and fennel (if using), along with 1 teaspoon salt. Cook without browning (adjust the heat if necessary), until the vegetables are tender, about 8 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, bring 6 quarts water to a boil and add 3 tablespoons kosher salt. 
  • Chop the trimmed broccoli rabe bunch into halves or thirds. Add to the boiling water and cook 2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to colander set into a large bowl.
  • Add the pasta to the water. While the pasta cooks, stir the garlic and crushed chili to taste (I start with ½ teaspoon) into the skillet with the sausage. Scoop out about ¼ cup of the boiling pasta water and add to the pan to loosen the sauce. 
  • When the pasta is al dente, drain, and reserve another ¼ cup or so of the cooking water. Add the pasta to the pan along with the broccoli rabe and stir everything together over low heat. Dribble in more water and olive oil as needed to keep it saucy (but not too liquid). 
  • Serve the pasta in bowls, sprinkled with chopped parsley and topped with the cheese.

Karen’s Notes and Tips

  • Leftovers will keep up to 5 days in the refrigerator. If the pasta has absorbed the sauce, reheat with a few splashes of chicken stock or broth.
  • To prep broccoli rabe: Trim off the bottom stems of the broccoli rabe, reserving the more tender upper stems. Lay the bunch on your cutting board and chop the greens and stems all into large bite-size pieces.
  • If you don’t have fresh fennel available, don’t worry! The dish will taste fantastic without it.

Nutrition

Calories: 677kcal | Carbohydrates: 64g | Protein: 28g | Fat: 33g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Sodium: 829mg | Potassium: 688mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 1075IU | Vitamin C: 16mg | Calcium: 188mg | Iron: 3mg

Nutrition facts are calculated by third-party software. If you have specific dietary needs, please refer to your favorite calculator.

Did you make this recipe? Search @Familystylefood or tag #familystylefood on Pinterest

More Weeknight Pasta Recipes:

Recipe developer Karen Tedesco of the popular website Familystyle Food in her kitchen making a kale salad.

Hey, I’m Karen

Creator of Familystyle Food

I’m a food obsessed super-taster and professionally trained cook ALL about creating elevated dinners with everyday ingredients. Find simplified recipes made from scratch and enjoy incredibly tasty food! Read more about me here.

Leave a comment and star rating

Do you have a cooking question? Leave your comment below and let me know how I can help.

Did you love this recipe? Just click on the stars to leave a rating!

Recipe rating




Share your photo!Inspire others by uploading an image of your creation along with your review. The maximum upload file size: 512 MB. You can upload: image. Drop files here

You may want to read my commenting policy before joining the conversation.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

3 Comments

  1. This is a family favorite! Often requested on for birthday dinner! I usually use asparagus instead and don’t include the fennel – but it’s still delicious! We fight over the leftovers! Also love the cheese!

  2. Kathie Book says:

    What a fabulous dish !
    Last night while the kids trick or treated, I prepared this elegant and super easy meal.
    It was a hit! Everyone oohed and awwed and annihilated it in no time.
    When I was shopping for the ingredients the other day, the cashier asked me about the fennel. Neither one of us had ever used it. I told him about the recipe.
    Now I’ll have to look for him and tell him it was wonderful.
    This is a keeper and I will use this both for special occasions and regular meal rotation.

    1. Kathie, you made my day! I’m so glad you enjoyed the recipe. And I love that you took the time to cook while the kids were out, too. Halloween is usually the hardest night for me to cook, because I’m usually on door duty at the same time!