Adapted from ARuss Parsons LA Times article. I made a few changes to proportions – more meat & veg and less pasta -- and shortened the cooking time for the broccoli. We both suggest other variations: using rapini or greens as the veg, and/or eliminating the meat and adding capers and olives. You can also add goat cheese at the end for a creamy sauce.
1 large or 2 small heads broccoli (about 1 pound)
1 lb. fresh Italian sausage (I used chicken Sweet Italian from TJ’s)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 lb. dried short pasta, such as fusilli, penne, or ziti; or long dried pasta such as spaghetti
1 ounce Pecorino Romano cheese (I used whatever Parmesan I had)
Bring a large pot of liberally salted water to a boil. While the water is heating, clean the broccoli: Separate the florets from the stems and set them aside. Remove the tough peel of the stems with a paring knife or vegetable peeler, then cut the stems into half-inch cubes. Remove the casings from the sausage.
Warm the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and crumble the sausage meat into the oil, flattening each piece slightly so it will brown better. Cook until the sausage browns and crisps. Lower the heat a little, add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until the garlic turns pale brown, about 5 minutes. Do not let the garlic scorch; if it begins to brown, remove the pan from the heat.
Add the pasta to the boiling water. After about a minute, add the broccoli stems. After 8 minutes, add the broccoli florets and cook until the pasta is tender, about 10 minutes total. Scoop out a half cup or so of the pasta water and then drain the pasta and broccoli.
Place the skillet over high heat and add the drained broccoli and pasta to the sausage and garlic. Add one-half cup boiling water from the pasta pot. Cook, stirring frequently, until the water mostly boils away, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and a good grinding of black pepper. Shave pecorino Romano over the top of each serving with a vegetable peeler.