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Pasta with Smothered Broccoli Rabe and Olives
© Kana Okada

Pasta with Smothered Broccoli Rabe and Olives

  • ACTIVE: 20 MIN
  • TOTAL TIME: 1 HR 40 MIN
  • SERVINGS: 4
  • MAKE-AHEAD
  • STAFF-FAVORITE

Many Mediterranean cooks use clay pots to cook foods without added liquid. In Sicily, the method is called affogato and the pot is an earthenware tegame. In Paula Wolfert's adaptation of a specialty she enjoyed many years ago at the Ristorante Circolo Uliveto, in the Sicilian town of Trecastagni, she substitutes an easier-to-find cazuela for the tegame. She uses it to cook coarsely chopped broccoli rabe (ideally the young, leafy kind) with grated pecorino cheese, briny olives and meaty anchovies, then folds the mixture into boiled pasta and bakes it.

  1. 5 oil-cured black olives, pitted
  2. 4 anchovy fillets
  3. 2 tablespoons golden raisins
  4. 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  5. 2 large scallions, coarsely chopped
  6. 1 garlic clove, minced
  7. 2 tablespoons freshly grated pecorino cheese, plus more for sprinkling
  8. 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  9. 1 1/4 pounds broccoli rabe, thick stems discarded and the rest coarsely chopped
  10. 1 tablespoon dry red wine
  11. Salt and freshly ground pepper
  12. 1/2 pound pasta, such as garganelli, fusilli or pasta shells
  1. In separate small bowls, cover the olives, anchovies and raisins with hot water and let soak for 10 minutes. Drain well. Coarsely chop the olives and finely chop the anchovies. In a small bowl, combine the olives, anchovies and raisins with the parsley, scallions, garlic and the 2 tablespoons of grated pecorino cheese.
  2. Coat a 10- or 12-inch cazuela or ovenproof skillet with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Spread half of the broccoli rabe in the cazuela in an even layer. Sprinkle with the olive mixture and cover with the remaining broccoli rabe. Press a piece of parchment paper on top of the broccoli rabe and cover the cazuela tightly. Cook over low heat until the broccoli rabe is tender, about 40 minutes. Add the wine, cover and cook for 10 minutes longer. Transfer the cazuela to a padded or wooden surface. (To avoid thermal shock, do not place it on a cold stone or metal surface.) Uncover, season with salt and pepper and let stand.
  3. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400°. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain the pasta and return it to the saucepan. Toss with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Gently fold the pasta into the broccoli rabe. Sprinkle with pecorino and bake until bubbling, about 10 minutes. Serve hot or warm.
Make Ahead The broccoli rabe can be prepared through Step 2 and refrigerated overnight in the cazuela. Bring to room temperature before proceeding.

Suggested Pairing

The bitterness of broccoli rabe (and similar vegetables) can make tannic red wines taste harsh, so pour a fresh white with this earthy pasta dish. Sauvignon Blanc is a good choice, particularly a wine from the Sancerre region in France's Loire Valley or from northeastern Italy.