Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe

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Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe uses chicken sausage in place of pork sausage and a whole lot of garlic! This lightened up version of my favorite Italian classic pasta dish will not disappoint!!

Orecchiette Pasta with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe uses chicken sausage in place of pork and a whole lot of garlic! This lightened up version will not disappoint!!

Orecchiette pasta with sausage and broccoli rabe is one of my FAVORITE Italian pasta dishes! The combination of the slightly bitter broccoli rabe combined with the garlic, red pepper flakes, Parmigiano Reggiano and sausage makes my taste buds do the happy dance!! If you’ve never had it, step out of your comfort zone and give it a try. Of course, if you want to play it safe, you may also enjoy this Orecchiette Pasta with Sausage and Broccoli.

Orecchiette Pasta with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe uses chicken sausage in place of pork and a whole lot of garlic! This lightened up version will not disappoint!!

My daughter Karina loves this dish! I usually make a big pot and keep the leftovers in the refrigerator to heat up for lunch or another night. You can use any pasta shape you like, whole wheat, gluten-free or even chickpea pasta would also be great. If you want to skip the pasta, you would love this Broccoli Rabe and Sausage Spiralized Parsnip Noodles!

They key to this dish is finding a great tasting chicken or turkey sausage. I recommend trying a few brands, not all are equal in taste and the lean factor. I have found some great homemade sausages from Italian markets, but also love Premio if you can find it.

How do you get the bitterness out of broccoli rabe?

Broccoli rabe otherwise known as rapini has a slightly bitter taste, but the bitterness mellows when you blanch it for just under two minutes. Then toss it with garlic and oil and your favorite seasoning and enjoy!

What is a good substitute for broccoli rabe?

You can substitute broccoli rabe with mustard greens or baby broccoli for a less bitter taste.

How to make broccoli rabe with pastaOrecchiette Pasta with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe uses chicken sausage in place of pork and a whole lot of garlic! This lightened up version will not disappoint!!Orecchiette Pasta with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe uses chicken sausage in place of pork and a whole lot of garlic! This lightened up version will not disappoint!!Orecchiette Pasta with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe uses chicken sausage in place of pork and a whole lot of garlic! This lightened up version will not disappoint!!Orecchiette Pasta with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe uses chicken sausage in place of pork and a whole lot of garlic! This lightened up version will not disappoint!!

More Broccoli Rabe Recipes

Orecchiette Pasta with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe uses chicken sausage in place of pork and a whole lot of garlic! This lightened up version will not disappoint!!
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4.94 from 29 votes
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Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe

289 Cals 21 Protein 39 Carbs 5 Fats
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 20 mins
Total Time: 30 mins
Yield: 6 servings
COURSE: Dinner
CUISINE: Italian
Orecchiette Pasta with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe uses chicken sausage in place of pork and a whole lot of garlic! This lightened up version will not disappoint!!


  • 1 large bunch broccoli rabe, washed and 2" trimmed off stems
  • 1 lb lean chicken sausage, removed from casing
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 5-6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 10 oz orecchiette pasta, wheat or gluten-free
  • 1 cup less sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • crushed red pepper flakes, optional


  • Cut broccoli rabe in quarters.
  • Bring a large pot of water to boil. When it comes to a rolling boil, add broccoli rabe.
  • Blanch for about 1 1/2 - 2 minutes, drain and set aside in a colander.
  • Re-fill pot with water and salt for the pasta and bring back to a boil.
  • Add pasta and cook according to package directions for al dente.
  • In a large deep sauté pan, brown sausage on medium heat, breaking up into small pieces as it cooks.
  • When completely cooked through set aside in a dish or a bowl.
  • Increase heat to medium high, add olive oil to the pan; when hot add garlic and cook until golden (don't burn).
  • Return broccoli rabe to the pan, mix well with the garlic and oil, season with salt and pepper and cook about a minute. Return cooked sausage to the pan and mix well.
  • Drain pasta and add to the broccoli rabe. Reduce heat and stir for about 30 seconds.
  • Add chicken broth, parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes if using.
  • Adjust salt and pepper to taste and toss another 30 seconds so that everything is mixed well and the pasta is coated with the sauce.
  • Remove from heat and add to a large pasta dish or divide equally between 6 pasta bowls. Serve with additional grated cheese if you desire.


Serving: 11/2 cups, Calories: 289kcal, Carbohydrates: 39g, Protein: 21g, Fat: 5g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 4mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 1g
WW Points Plus: 7
Keywords: broccoli rabe orecchiette sausage, orecchiette pasta with broccoli rabe and sausage, orecchiette with sausage and broccoli rabe

Photo credit: Jess Larson

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  1. This was great and family loved it too. I scooped the rabe out with a slotted spoon then cooked the pasta in the same water and then substituted the chicken broth with the rabe/pasta water. Will be putting this on a regular rotation at our house!

  2. I tried with spinach! Pretty delicious! Next time rapini..

  3. First time I made it and will make again but will need to find chicken sausage without pork casing. I used ground turkey it was good but felt a bit dry. After making it again I’m sure it will be delicious

  4. I’m plugging in the nutritional info on my WW app and I’m getting 7 for the green. You have it written down as 9. Did it change ? 

  5. This recipe is amazing. The whole family loves it! It’s simple and easy. Made exactly as stated in recipe and no changes are needed. Used Barilla Collezione orecchiette and it is super chewy and delicious with the simple sauce.

  6. Very good! My husband is not a pasta fan and enjoyed it. I used the recipe as a guideline using what I had on hand (rotini, pork sausage, and regular fresh broccoli) but next time I will try it with the ingredients as listed. Now to remember to add them to the grocery list. 🙂 

  7. Two suggestions:

    Don’t use different water for the pasta – cook it right in the same water as the broccoli rabe (use a straining spoon to remove the broccoli rabe). The pasta will absorb some of the flavor and nutrients. Also, no real need for chicken stock – save a cup of the water after the pasta has cooked in it, and use that for the moisture. The pasta water has starch in it and will thicken slightly, keeping things from being soupy.

    • This! Also cook the pasta in less water than you are used to. You will get starchier water. After adding the pasta and water to the pan. Shake the pan wile stirring to build an emulsified sauce.

  8. This was so delicious! I vegan-ized the recipe using not- chicken broth, beyond sausage & vegan parm. It was amazing!!! I can’t wait to try more of your recipes! Thank you!

  9. AWESOME!!! The only change I made was that I used spicy Italian Sausage because I didn’t have the chicken sausage on hand. Hubby loved it!!

  10. I followed the recipe exactly.  It was easy and delicious.  The only change I would do is add another bundle of broccoli rabe, only because I love a lot of greens.  Also, just throw in the veg after step 6.  This will eliminate another pot to wash and avoid an unnecessary step.

  11. Is it supposed to be soupy? I only used one cup of broth. 

  12. One of my favorite Italian dishes. Was so glad to find a lightened up version and this recipe did not disappoint!  It’s great as leftovers too!  Thank you!

  13. It was so delicious! I used to work at an Italian restaurant in my early 20’s and this tasted almost identical to the recipe they used. I added more stock so that there would be both for the next couple of days I heated it up to eat! My son thought is was good too!

  14. This was delicious, as is every single Skinnytaste recipe I’ve made, and I’ve made many! Just left out the red pepper flakes, as hubby doesn’t like spicy foods. He raved about this dish from the first bite. Thank you, Gina, for consistently great recipes!

  15. This recipe was a hit! I had to use chicken sausage links instead of the breakfast style and had to use grated parmesan instead BUT it turned out surprisingly delicious. It didn’t look as appetizing when I made it but the flavor was very good. The red pepper flakes stand out and it’s garlicky but not too much so. I will definitely make again, hopefully with the right kind of sausage and more baby broc. 

  16. I have made this recipe so many times and I never get tired of it. Since broccoli rabe is not always easy to find, I substitute plain old broccoli and it is still delicious. I have also used haricot vert, in a pinch and the taste is still remarkable. I love the brightness of the lemon and usually grate some zest into the sauce. Don’t forget the Parmesan cheese, either. It adds a yummy, decadent creaminess.

  17. Hi GINA, I love your recipes and have four of your cookbooks. Is this the same as the Orichiette with Kale in your first book? That is absolutely one of our favorites! I’m just wondering if there’s a reason you use broccoli rabe instead. Is it healthier? Should I just stick to what I know? 

  18. I love this recipe. I’ve made it before (non-skinny version) and you can hardly tell a difference. I’m new to WW and I had two questions: 1. Does “freestyle” points mean SmartPoints? 2. If I use regular pasta (not GF or wheat) is it the same point value? Thanks!

  19. Excellent – had a bag of baby spinach so sauteed that after browning the sausage, then combined all. Easy to make and very tasty.

  20. This is delicious! I expected to like it, but I *loved* it. I could not find broccoli rabe, so I did the mustard greens substitution, which worked really well. I am really impressed with how well using the chicken stock works to keep the dish’s texture perfect and how well it pulls together the other flavors. This will definitely be a regular dish on my family’s table.

  21. I wasn’t able to find broccoli rabe so I’m going to use broccoli (great substitute because I love broccoli in pasta anyway!). How do you recommend cooking the broccoli? Boil and Blanche? Or just boil?

  22. This looks delicious, Gina!

  23. I add raisins and chopped toasted walnuts at the end. Sounds weird but so delicious!

  24. I like the dish but it takes FOREVER to remove the casings. What am I doing wrong?

  25. This is without fail, one of the easiest, tastiest dishes ever! Reheats nicely as well!

  26. I make this at least ONCE a week–it is DELICIOUS!!!!! Does not disappoint ever!

  27. This was delicious!! I used spinach instead of broccoli. My teen sons took seconds. Yummy!!

  28. Can you make this with vegetarian Italian sausage like  Beyond Meat?

  29. I just made this dish tonight I must say I am absolutely thrilled I followed the instructions to a t the only thing I did add was a half a can of cannellini beans and I did add red pepper flakes because my husband likes spicy dishes. First time ever cooking broccoli rabe because I know it is generally a bitter vegetable can only like it at restaurants at the fear of mine coming out lousy LOL. I follow these instructions and it was fantastic trust me try this dish you will not be disappointed

  30. Once again a very delicious recipe from Skinny Taste.
    A perfect Sunday night dinner in chilly Vermont!

  31. Love this recipe but will make with broccoli or peas next time.  I find broccoli rabe to be a hit or miss with bitter levels. I’m a veggie lover and this veg is one I’ve really tried to like but just can’t.
    I really like this stock and parm sauce, I can see incorporating it in a lot of other pasta dishes I make.

  32. When I saw the broccoli rabe at the grocery store this morning I knew that I had to make this again. Following the suggestion on the Skinnytaste Community page, first I adjusted the ingredient measurements to make 4 servings, then I made this up to the point where the cheese is added to the sauce Then I took half of the sauce and got it ready to freeze. Now I have supper tonight and lunch at work tomorrow!

  33. Can I double.the.recipe ? Will it come out.the.same ?? Love.this

  34. what is orecchiette pasta

  35. I use kale – this is the only recipe I ever use kale in – and its delicious. My fiance who is the worlds pickiest eater LOVES it. Literally tonight will be like the 3rd time in the past month we've made this dish. Try it with kale! I use almost the whole bag of kale from the produce dept.

  36. Spinach works instead of rabe too!

  37. A really delicious recipe! I got prechopped broccoli rabe and blanched it for a bit longer than you called for because we like it a bit softer. I also added a touch of the chicken broth in the last few steps of combining ingredients when I felt the broccoli rabe-sausage combo was drying out. It was really tasty!

  38. OMG, this was sooooooo good. Thank you!!!

  39. My husband said he could eat this every night! I love it too. Very "brothy." Thanks!

  40. This was a delicious meal! We used spicy sausage and the heat with the flavors of the pesto and broccoli rabe were perfect. Thanks for the recipe!

  41. Made thousand it was yummy! Even better than the BF's version but shhhh…don't tell him!

  42. I'm new to this site (a co-worker pointed me here) and I'm so impressed so far. This is the 3rd recipe I've made and it was absolutely delicious!!! I look forward to many more. Thanks – Irene

  43. I made this for dinner tonight. It was great! Thank you Gina.

  44. I know you are a Trader Joe's fan, I make this with the TJ Sweet Basil Pesto chicken and turkey sausage. YUMMMMMMM So much flavor and the kids love it!!!

  45. So Yummy! Even my almost 3 year old ate it. He Picked out the "green stuff"! So Good and blanching the Rabe really cut back on the bitterness. I could only find full fat chicken sausage and low fat turkey so I used the turkey. Yum!

  46. Did you make this with regular pasta? Or smart taste? Just wondering for points purposes. Thanks so much I LOVE your recipes 🙂

  47. Trying this tonight. We will report tomorrow

  48. Just made this and it was AMAZING. So easy and simple but exceeded our expectations for deliciousness. Added plenty of crushed red pepper 🙂 Thank you for yet another winner!

    Also had to sub broccoli and turkey sausage (availability) and also switched out the pasta for whole wheat rotini, because we much prefer the taste of whole wheat pasta and can't find it in many shapes.

  49. Thanks this was a great meal and as my husband said it satisfied both of us, my love of pasta and his love of sausage! I also had 3 left over servings for lunches and ate my last one yesterday.

  50. if you all can not find a turkey sausage you like you can make your own. it is super easy and quick. here is my favorite recipe.
    1 Lb. ground chicken or turkey or pork
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    1/2 Tbsp. salt
    1/4 Tbsp. pepper
    1/4 Tbsp. fennel seeds
    1/2 Tbsp.chopped parsely
    1/2 tsp. rubbed sage
    2/3 tsp. majoram

    mix all ingredients together and lets flavors mixand marinate in the fridge 2 hours then you can use or freeze for later use.
    I form it in little balls, cook through in skillet, steamer or oven then keep them in the freezer to use in recipes.

  51. Does the sausage come as "lean" sausage? Or can I buy regular sausage from our deli?

  52. This is a favorite in our home now! We substitute the broccoli rabe with spinach, because the hubby isn't a fan. We add quite a bit of red pepper for an extra kick!

    Thank you!

  53. My sweetie and I made this for dinner last night. It was really tasty! We weren't able to find broccoli rabe, so we substituted hald broccolini and hald dandelion leaves (for bitterness) — turned out great, thanks!

  54. Chicken or turkey would be great, but not all sausages taste the same, so it you may have to try a few until you find one you like.

  55. How would Italian chicken sausage taste?

  56. Might be a stupid question – but should I be using fresh/raw sausage or does cooked sausage (as packed in the deli section) work?

  57. This is my second time cooking your recipes and this turned out great! I couldn't find broccoli rabe here but used Swiss chard instead and it was delish! Well done Gina!

  58. I'm so happy you enjoyed them!

  59. @Emilee – Broccoli Rabe is normally in the produce section by other greens (Spinach, Swiss Chard, Broccoli, Kale) or you can find it frozen
    @Rosie – blanching the Broccoli Rabe takes the bitterness away

    I used to just grill or broil chicken sausage and toss it with roasted or steamed broccoli rabe, pasta, garlic & oil. I love that this uses broth rather than too much oil. It's even better left over.

    I have not made one thing yet from your site that I did not like and I LOVE having new ideas. Thank you for taking the time to take so many pictures to go with your descriptions.

  60. Thanks Alicia!

  61. such a yummy recipie made it today my un healthy food fan of a BF loved it!

  62. Broccolini or Swiss chard would work!!

  63. Do you have any suggestions for a broccoli rabe substitute? Maybe spinach or another green? This looks really good but rabe is a little to bitter for me 🙂

  64. Don't feel bad, I can never follow a recipe without changing it either!

  65. Made this tonight. Purchased some garden veggie/mushroom/asiago chicken sausage from Trader Joe's this weekend. Could NOT find broccoli rabe, so I subbed spinach instead (and I bought romano cheese instead of reggiano ;)) So basically I can't follow directions (I DID use orecchiette, so I did one thing correctly 😉

    It was *AMAZING*!!! This might be my favorite (and my family, including a picky 2.5 year old!) "Gina recipe," as we call them!!


  66. I don't know what "cook this not that" is, a cookbook I assume? but I'm sure many people have their own rendition of this dish as it is very popular. This is my way of making it, any resemblance to this is purely coincidence.

  67. This is the same recipe as in "Cook This Not That" ?

  68. Christina, I'm so glad you liked it, I too am from NY so I understand!! I love this dish, love love. Love!!

  69. as i am eating the leftovers of this for lunch today, i am thinking that even though i made it and i know the ingredients…i can't figure out what makes it so good! i swear its a restaurant quality pasta dish (and i live in ny so you know i eat a lot of good italian!) another awesome recipe…i have been living off your recipes since january – they have helped me lose the 17lbs i had gained since becoming a lifetime ww member, putting me right back under my goal! thanks gina!!

  70. I made this tonight with zucchini because I couldn't find the broccoli rabe and the broccolini was very expensive. It was delicious. I just love this site.

  71. i saw this in real simple and wondered how to slim it down and *poof* here it is! thanks 🙂

  72. I'll have to try it with broccoli sometime!

  73. Delicious! Just made this for dinner… used pasta shells since I could not find Orecchiette. Also used Broccoli crowns instead of broccoli rabe. Came out awesome and this is definitely now one of my fav's.

  74. Gina,
    Love your recipe's and thank you so much for the point value. It help's alot.

  75. I just made this for my husband who loves pasta & is very suspicious of healthy recipes. Needless to say it was a huge hit. Thank you!

  76. so beautiful and yummy. I'm so excited I found your blog. I'm a new follower, I hope you will as well. I started my blog a little over a month ago. It's all about celebrity fashion from the point of view of an LA stylist. Stop by to see multiple post a day on all the latest celebrity fashion news and check out pictures from the fall/winter preview I attended yesterday in Beverly Hills. Would love your support. xoxo


  77. Andrea, great idea, why didn't I suggest that 🙂

  78. Gina, I used your homemade turkey sausage recipe to make this. Delicious:-)

  79. You can use the sausage in the casings. I was lucky to find them as patties which made it easier for me but I normally buy the links.

  80. How does the sausage come packaged? I've never seen chicken sausage patties like you show in the picture at my grocery store. There's all kinds of sausage in the casings though, would that work with casings removed?

  81. Anything with broccoli rabe reminds me of my grandparents. They'd put it in everything! So now I have to try this:)

  82. Gina, this pasta dish looks fresh, simple and fabulous! My kinda meal 🙂

  83. Rebecca broccoli would work in it's place.

    Marisa, mine too!!

  84. You should be able to use frozen broccoli in place of the brocolli rabe, I use it for my Gnocchoni and brocolli rabe with turkey sausage

  85. Orecchiette with sausage and broccoli rabe is my all time favorite pasta dish! I just found chicken sausage with broccoli rabe in it, too!

  86. I cannot find broccoli rabe anywhere in my little town (or broccolini for that matter.) What do you suggest as a replacement?

  87. been awhile since I visited you, so glad I did. This looks terrific! I now have your site bookmarked on my tool bar. Thanks, Gina!

  88. Rosie, yes of course that would be great, but you would have to buy a few to match the amount of broccoli rabe I used. The bunches of broccolini are so much smaller and a lot pricier.

  89. Would broccolini do as well? It looks like broccoli rabe but isn't bitter. Broccolini is a cross between broccoli and a chinese broccoli.

  90. mmm looks delicious!

  91. This looks AMAZING. I've had similar dishes at restaurants but I am sure your version is way healthier!! Stupid question- where in the grocery store do you find broccoli rabe? I can never find it at my grocery store!

  92. ehehhh this is a typical dish of my country:Puglia…well done really!!