This quick One Pot Lemony Pasta with Sausage, Broccoli Rabe, and Burrata is absolutely loaded with bright and comforting flavors. It takes just 40 minutes to make and is the perfect easy date night– or weeknight– dinner.
All pasta has the potential to be good pasta. It’s an ol’ reliable weeknight fall back, an “I’ll grab the box of penne in the pantry because I don’t know what else to make” meal. It’s deliciously carby. Ridiculously easy to prepare. Quick and inexpensive. Versatile… infinitely versatile. It’s hard to go wrong with it.
But some special pasta dishes are so much more than that. Sometimes they’re the meals you plan for and get giddy with excitement about. They’re the ones that you look forward to eating as leftovers, and the ones that you pat yourself on the back for because, damn, you can make pasta dishes at home that are just as delicious as any you’ve ever gotten at a restaurant. This One Pot Lemony Pasta with Sausage, Broccoli Rabe, and Burrata is one of those pasta dishes.
Here’s what makes it so special: Crumbles of sweet Italian sausage, strips of fennel, and broccoli rabe find their way into the rigatoni tubes, while lemon, garlic, parmesan, and creamy burrata cheese bring the whole thing over the top. It’s comforting and satisfying without being overly heavy, and, as the recipe name says, it’s a one pot recipe. (Cue the confetti explosion!)
HOW TO MAKE ONE POT LEMONY PASTA WITH SAUSAGE, BROCCOLI RABE, AND BURRATA
To make this recipe, first I bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil, and I add in the rigatoni. You can, of course, opt to use other pasta shapes, but I love the way that the ridges in rigatoni allow the light sauce to really take hold, and the fact that the larger tubes will naturally fill up with bits of your mix-ins as I stir everything together.
I boil the rigatoni until just slightly less cooked than al dente, and I add in the broccoli rabe to cook for the last minute. Seriously, it only takes ONE minute to boil the broccoli rabe, so don’t run off and try to use this time to multitask! The broccoli rabe will continue to cook through from residual heat after you strain out the water. It’ll be tender but still have some snap to it in the end, which is exactly what we want here.
Once the broccoli rabe and pasta are both cooked, I dump everything into a strainer to drain out the pasta water, but not before scooping a cupful of that water to save for later. The salty, starchy water will add flavor and help to thicken the sauce when we use it.
Now that the pot is empty once again, I return it to the stovetop and heat a bit of oil in it. Once it’s hot, I add in sliced fennel and saute it until it’s beginning to soften. Then, I add in the garlic and crumbled sausage. If you’ve never crumbled sausage for a recipe before, here’s how to do it: Use a knife to slice down one side of each sausage link, through the casings. Use your hands to remove the casings and discard them. Put the sausage fillings into the pot and break it apart with a wooden utensil as you cook it. Voila! You’ve got sausage crumbles.
When the sausage is browned and crisp, I add in the lemon zest and crushed red pepper flakes and just give them a quick stir before adding the pasta and broccoli rabe back to the pan, along with the reserved pasta water, some lemon juice, and a hefty amount of freshly grated parmesan cheese. Tossed all together, the pasta will heat through and the light but dreamy sauce will come together to coat the ingredients perfectly.
All that’s left to do is to plate the pasta, top it all with burrata cheese while it’s still warm (that cheese will just gently begin to melt over the pasta, mmmm!), and finish it off with some fennel fronds and fresh basil. Oh, and then eat it.
And go back for seconds, obviously.
What about the burrata?
Burrata is a delicate, rich, soft type of cheese made from mozzarella and cream. If you can’t find it or would like to substitute it, fresh mozzarella will be fine!
- 1 pound package rigatoni or other pasta
- Kosher salt, to taste
- 10 ounces broccoli rabe, trimmed and cut into 3 inch pieces
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound sweet Italian sausage, crumbled
- 8 ounces fennel, bulb sliced and fronds reserved for topping
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 2 lemons, zested and juiced
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
- 8 ounces burrata cheese
- Fresh basil leaves, to serve
- Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta to al dente according to package directions. Add broccoli rabe 1 minute before pasta is done cooking and let boil. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water and set aside. Drain the pasta mixture into a colander.
- Add 1 tablespoon of oil to the pasta pot and return to medium-high heat. Add the fennel and cook, stirring occasionally, until the fennel is soft, about 5-6 minutes. Add the garlic and sausage and cook, breaking up the sausage as it browns, until crisp.
- Stir in the crushed red pepper and lemon zest and cook for a minute. Stir in the hot pasta mixture, lemon juice, and parmesan cheese. Add the pasta water, starting with 1/2 cup and adding more if needed, and mix and continue to heat until a sauce forms and clings to the pasta.
- Serve warm with burrata cheese, basil, and fennel fronds.