This is a Friday night quickie pasta dish thrown together using ingredients I have purchased over the last week or so but not expressly for this purpose. Broccoli rabe is not something I liked growing up, and if you’ve never had it, it is definitely an acquired taste. The bitterness of the vegetable can be off-putting on its own, but paired with the right ingredients it tones down to a slightly more mellow note. I’m not sure exactly when I moved from not liking broccoli rabe to really liking it, if not craving it every so often. It is something that my mom would make on occasion, just simply sauteed with garlic and olive oil. I like broccoli rabe paired with sausage or pasta, or sometimes as my mom makes it, sopped up with some good crusty bread.
I used the Emeril Lagasse recipe for Braised Broccoli Rabe as my sauce, substituting vegetable broth for the chicken broth because I already had a carton open from using it earlier in the week. I used penne, but any short pasta will do just fine with this. Also, if you leave out the pancetta, this is easily a good vegetarian dinner. Or, you could substitute some sausage for the pancetta and make this a more meatitarian meal. Make sure to top the pasta with a generous dousing of grated parmesan or romano, it also pairs well with the bitterness of the broccoli rabe. When you are preparing the broccoli rabe, it’s important to remove the thick lower stems, as they are more bitter.