This cavatelli with turkey sausage, tomato, and broccoli rabe is a riff on the classic sausage and rabe pairing. Healthy never tasted so good.
Many people have never tasted cavatelli, and it really has a taste and texture all its own. For this broccoli rabe and sausage cavatelli dish, I took two traditionally paired ingredients—sausage and broccoli rabe—but changed it up a bit using turkey sausage and adding just a bit of tomato.–Allysa Torey
Sausage Cavatelli FAQs
What’s so special about cavatelli?
Cavatelli is a typical Southern Italian pasta made out of fine durum wheat semolina flour and water. The starch contained in the durum gives this pasta its distinctive and firm texture, perfect to go with a simple tomato sauce or with a rich Bolognese. Even better, the hollow, rustic shape will capture more of your favorite sauce.
Want to try making it yourself? Our own homemade cavatelli recipe is worth trying.
Can I use a different type of sausage?
We recommend you stick with Italian sausage for this cavatelli recipe but feel free to use a regular sweet or spicy Italian sausage, if you prefer.
Cavatelli with Turkey Sausage, Tomato, and Broccoli Rabe
- 1 pound broccoli rabe coarsely chopped (2-to-3-inch [5-to 8-cm] pieces are good)
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 3/4 pound sweet Italian turkey sausage casings removed
- 1/4 cup minced garlic
- 2 pounds frozen ricotta cavatelli
- 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Put a large pot of water on to boil over high heat. Bring a second large saucepan of water to boil. Add the broccoli rabe to the saucepan and cook until crisp-tender, 2 minutes.
- Remove from the heat, drain, and plunge the broccoli rabe into a large bowl of cold water. Transfer to a salad spinner and spin dry. Set aside.
- Heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a shallow Dutch oven, over medium-high heat. Add the sausage, breaking it up with a wooden spoon and stirring often, until the sausage is in small pieces and is thoroughly cooked through, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and stir in the garlic.
- Meanwhile, add the cavatelli to the pot of boiling water and cook according to the package directions, 5 to 7 minutes.
- Add the crushed tomatoes and the salt to the Dutch oven and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
- Drain the cavatelli and add to the Dutch oven with the broccoli rabe and the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil, tossing gently to evenly coat. Cook for 2 minutes more.
- Serve immediately with the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and black pepper to taste.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
The ricotta cavatelli was a perfect match for the peppery and crunchy broccoli rabe, the sweet tomato, and the sausage. A 1/4 cup of minced garlic sounded like too much, but after sautéing, the garlic blended in nicely, adding just the right touch. We really enjoyed the sausage cavatelli recipe.
I love this cavatelli with broccoli and sausage dish. It’s as easy to make as it is to eat the little curled pasta. The instructions were very straightforward and each step is timed just right, so have no fear.
You may want to avoid heavily seasoned turkey sausage so that you can better taste the ricotta cavatelli and the pleasantly bitter flavor of the broccoli rabe. After all, there’s a reason why the recipe specifically calls for ricotta cavatelli, and the broccoli rabe is not there just for color.
You can whip up this dish with frozen pasta during the week, or you can have a special weekend dinner by making your own ricotta cavatelli. Homemade cavatelli is easier than you think, but it takes a bit of time—get your guests around the table and have a pasta-making party!
Originally published June 7, 2006