Last week I was in the mood for a hearty, old world pasta dish with lots of zip. I found the recipe for broccoli rabe and pancetta in an old Food & Wine magazine. I decided to add it to cavatelli (aka ‘gavadeels’). Very tasty and very filling. The bitterness of the rabe and the saltiness of the pancetta made for a great pasta topping. No other herbs or spices needed.
You’re working with two pots of water, so to avoid any confusion I’ve labeled them as Pot A and Pot B.
CAVATELLI WITH BROCCOLI RABE AND PANCETTA
1 lb package frozen cavatelli
2 lbs broccoli rabe, cut into 2-inch lengths, thick stems discarded
2 tablespoons plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 lb pancetta, sliced 1/8 inch thick and cut into tiny cubes
4 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
In a large pot (Pot A), start to bring 4 quarts of salted water and one tablespoon olive oil to a boil. This will be for the cavatelli – do not add cavatelli yet, as it cooks quickly. The oil is added to prevent pasta from sticking.
In another large saucepan (Pot B), bring 2 quarts of salted water to a boil. Add the broccoli rabe and cook until just tender, about 5 minutes. Drain, shaking off the excess water. Wipe out the saucepan.
Add two tablespoons olive oil and pancetta to saucepan (Pot B) and cook over moderately low heat, stirring often, until the pancetta is golden, 8 to 10 minutes.
At this point, you will add the cavatelli to the large pot (Pot A) of boiling water, cook for 5-7 minutes.
Add the garlic to pancetta (Pot B) and cook, stirring, until golden, about 3 minutes. Add the broccoli rabe to the pancetta, season with salt and pepper and cook over moderately high heat until tender, 3 to 4 minutes.
Drain cavatelli when done, add to a large bowl, mix with broccoli rabe and pancetta.