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Orecchiette with broccoli rabe and toasted breadcrumbs

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November 28, 2007

Serves 4

1 tablespoon salt, or to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
5 cloves garlic, mashed to a fine paste
5 anchovy fillets, mashed to a fine paste
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 bunch (about 1 pound) broccoli rabe, rinsed, trimmed at the stem ends, and cut into thirds
1 pound orecchiette pasta
Extra oil (for sprinkling)

1. In a soup pot bring 4 quarts of salted water and 1 tablespoon salt to a boil over high heat.

2. Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat. Stir in the breadcrumbs and cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes or until the breadcrumbs are golden. Transfer them to a bowl. Wipe out the pan.

3. In the skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over low heat. Add the garlic, anchovies, and red pepper. With a spoon, press and stir the mixture into the oil. Remove the pan from the heat as soon as the garlic and anchovies have melted into the oil.

4. When the water boils, add the broccoli rabe to the pot. Cook for 3 minutes. With tongs or a slotted spoon, remove the broccoli from the water and drain in a colander. Don't drain the cooking water. Add the broccoli to the garlic mixture in the skillet. Toss the mixture and return it to a low heat.

5. Return the broccoli rabe water to a boil. Add the orecchiette and cook according to package directions, or until the pasta is tender but still has some bite. Drain the pasta into a colander, shake well, and tip the pasta back into the pot.

6. Pour the broccoli mixture into the pasta and toss to combine. Taste for seasoning. Add salt and black pepper, if you like. Sprinkle with toasted breadcrumbs and a little olive oil. - Jonathan Levitt

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