2 cups red cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and fresh-ground pepper, to taste
1 pound of loose sweet Italian sausage, sliced medium thick
2 pounds broccoli rabe, washed and tough stems removed, cut into 2-inch pieces
12 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1 pound cavatelli pasta
½ cup good shaved or grated Parmesan cheese
Toss the tomatoes with oil and a bit of salt. On a sheet pan in a hot oven, blister the tomatoes. Reserve the tomatoes, retaining as much pan juice as possible.
In a sauté pan, cook the sausage over medium heat until well browned. Remove from pan, but save the pan drippings.
In a large covered saucepan of boiling salted water, blanch the rabe and garlic. Lift it from the water with a strainer and drain, but save that water for the pasta.
Combine tomato, garlic, rabe and sausage with salt and pepper and a little more of the olive oil, keep warm but not hot (to retain colors).
Bring the pot of vegetable water, covered, back to a boil. Add a teaspoon more salt and the pasta.
Cook pasta until al dente, then drain. (I always save a ¼ cup for the sauce and the remainder for soup stock.)
While the pasta is cooking, use your ¼ cup of pasta water to deglaze the sausage pan and add that flavor layer and any tomato drippings to your cooked ingredients.
Finally, add the hot, drained pasta and the rest of the cooked, seasoned ingredients to a large bowl. Toss well and top with the Parmesan cheese.
This dish is good warm but don’t overdo it. The beauty is the bright green rabe and bright tomato, equally good at room temperature or the following day.