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Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe Recipe

This recipe was featured in La Cuccina Italiana's Pasta issue (September/October 2010). It looked just too good not to include. Many pasta dishes include tomatoes - but not this one. In southern Italy, pasta is often served without tomato.

ingredients:
1-1/4 pounds broccoli rabe - trimmed

finely ground sea salt
3 ounces unsmoked bacon cut into 1/4-inch cubes
6 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup coarsely ground bread crumbs
1 pound orecchiette pasta
1 cup coarsely grated ricotta salata (about 3 ounces)

directions:
1. Cook broccoli rabe in a large pot of salted boiling water until tender - about 5 minutes. Reserving water, transfer rabe to a colander, then rinse under sold water to stop the cooking. Gently squeeze out the excess water, then roughly chop.

2. In a large skillet, combine bacon and 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until bacon begins to crisp. About 4 minutes. Add broccoli and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for another 3 minutes. Transfer mixture to a large serving bowl.

3. Return skillet to medium heat. Add remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and breadcrumbs. Cook, stirring constantly until crumbs are golden brown - about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

4. Return pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente. Reserving 1/2 cup of pasta water, drain pasta and add to bowl with broccoli. Add breadcrumbs and 1/4 cup pasta water. Toss to combine. Moisten with extra pasta water if desired. Sprinkle with grated cheese and serve immediately.

serves 4
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