Some days you just don’t feel like eating anything too heavy. But that doesn’t mean you don’t want to feel full when your done with your meal. Lisa and I do eat a fair amount of pasta dinner and while she enjoys sausage with hers, mine is always meatless. I will let you in on my secret though, I love cheddar cheese on my pasta. I’m not sure how or when I got started, but give me a good piece of Cabot’s Aged Cheddar with my pasta and red sauce and I’m one happy camper!
But there are days that you’re just not in the mood for red sauce, and Lisa does love my aioli, but to me just plain past aioli isn’t very exciting, so I like to crank it up a notch when I do make it.
One of my favorite ingredients to add to my Pasta Aioli is Broccoli Rabe and of course it never hurts to find an interesting pasta shape to change things up a bit too. For this dish I turned to one of my favorites, Riccioli from Wegmans Italian Artisan line of pastas. In Italian Riccioli translates to “little curls” which is a unique type of Fusilli that is traditionally made with a spindle shaped tool called a “ferretto”. This type of pasta most commonly comes from Southern Italy and is great for holding sauce, which made it a good choice for aioli.
In the Philadelphia Region when you ask for an Aioli sauce with your pasta don’t expect a mayonnaise style garlic sauce, as in a provincial French sauce, because what you’ll get is a light sauce made of chopped garlic, lightly sauteed in a Extra Virgin Olive Oil, with a few crushed red pepper flakes, Italian parsley and a sprinkle of sea salt.
That sauce would be referred to as a Aglio Olio in Italy, but more than likely it was just a little to much to pronounce in the Philadelphia kitchens and got shortened to Aioli. You won’t find any egg yolks in it, no anchovies, and never any grated cheese……although grated romano will usually be added after its served, unless of course your a purist who says never mix olive oil with cheese. I of course will add cheese to just about anything, and believe me when I tell you, you’re going to love it with this pasta dish!
- 1 lb riccoili or your favorite pasta
- 1 large head broccoli rabe
- 3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon Italian parsley – finely chopped
- sea salt to taste
- 4 tablespoons grated romano cheese (or more depending upon your taste)
- Wash and clean broccoli rabe, removing most of the stem
- In a large saute pan place broccoli rabe in the pan with about a cup of water over high heat, as the water begins to boil reduce to simmer and allow water to cook off.
- This process should take 10 – 15 minutes or until broccoli rabe is fairly tender, then remove from heat (if all the water cooks off and broccoli rabe is still not tender add additional water and continue cooking)
- In another saute pan add 3 tablespoons of olive oil , add chopped garlic and saute over low heat until garlic just begins to brown.
- Add pinch of red pepper flakes and broccoli rabe and toss in oil and set aside.
- Cook pasta per instructions on box,
- When pasta is almost cooked, return broccoli rabe and sauce to burner and heat over medium heat.
- Season with sea salt to taste
- Add additional olive oil if sauce appears to dry. (you may also add a little of the pasta water if you don’t care to use anymore oil)
- Toss pasta with broccoli rabe sauce
- Place pasta into serving bowls and top with grated romano cheese and and a sprinkle of chopped Italian parsely.
- If you would like a little extra heat, add a few more red pepper flakes.
- Serve with crusty bread and enjoy!
Whether you serve this as a main course or a side dish, it will be a welcome addition to your table. Add a loaf of crusty bread and a salad and you’ve got a meal you’ll not soon forget…..just don’t forget the grated cheese!