Okay everyone, you can file this one under, “messing around with sacred family recipes.” My mom found this recipe when I was growing up and we had it all the time. It was easy to make and we all loved it.
I’m not sure what the original recipe called for, but we definitely made it our own. For one thing, we never actually used broccoli rabe – which is a bitter, broccoli-like vege. We always just used broccoli. Recently I wondered, “what would this be like with mushrooms?” It’s a bit of a sacrilege to add or remove anything from this sacred family recipe, but I did it anyway. I think my family will forgive me because the mushrooms are a great addition!
Bowtie pasta, about 2 cups dry
A couple heads of broccoli
Italian sausage, 1/2 to 1 pound (depending on your preference)
Shiitake mushrooms, 8 ounces or more
Put on a pot of water to boil for your pasta. While that’s going, heat about 1/2 a stick of butter in a large pan. Break the sausage off in little bite-size blobs and add to the pan. Cook the sausage thoroughly and then turn the heat off and set pan aside.
While the sausage cooks, de-stem and chop the mushrooms. Cut the broccoli into bite sized pieces, using the florets and as much as the stem as you like. Mince 1-2 cloves of garlic.
Steam the broccoli over a pan of boiling water (sometimes I’ve managed to steam it over my boiling pasta). Heat a pan on medium-high heat, add 1-2 tablespoons of oil and saute the shiitake. When they’re soft and smell fragrant, add the garlic and cook another minute or so. Keep an eye on that garlic as it likes to burn!
When the mushrooms are done, tip them into the pan with the sausage. When the broccoli is done, add that to the sausage and mushrooms. When the pasta is cooked, drain, and add to the pan. If your original pan wasn’t big enough, you may need to switch to a bigger one! Add about 1/2 cup of chicken broth to the pan and mix everything up. Grate some Parmesan cheese, at least 1 cup – more if you like it cheesier. Add that to the pan and mix again. Put the lid on and let it sit for a couple minutes to let the flavors mingle and the cheese melt.
To be honest, I have already messed around with the making of this recipe. The way I grew up making it: after cooking the sausage we added a bunch of chicken broth to the pan and then put the uncooked broccoli in there and steamed the broccoli in the pan over the top of the sausage. When the broccoli was cooked, we added the pasta and cheese and let it all melt and integrate. Feel free to try it that way too!