Spicy Penne with Broccoli Rabe, Sausage and Chickpeas

Your favorite Italian veggies combined with spicy sausage and served over whole wheat pasta is sure to satisfy hungry appetites.


  • Salt
  • 1 large bundle of broccoli rabe, trimmed and cut into 3-inch pieces
  • 1 pound penne or whole wheat penne
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1 pound bulk Italian hot sausage, squeezed from casing
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained (15 ounces), divided
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon thyme, freshly chopped
  • 1 can fire-roasted diced tomatoes (15 ounces)
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup Pecorino Romano cheese
  • Crushed red pepper flakes, to pass at the table


Bring a large pot of water to a boil; add the salt, then the rabe. Cook for 3 minutes. Remove to an ice water bath with slotted spoon or spider and reserve. Bring the water back to a boil. Cook the pasta to al dente, reserving 1 cup of starchy cooking liquid just before draining.

Meanwhile, heat the EVOO in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and brown, about 5-6 minutes.

Place half of the chickpeas in a food processor with a splash of water and puree. Add the garlic to the sausage and cook 1 minute. Add the puree and the remaining whole chickpeas and reserved broccoli rabe. Season with salt, pepper and thyme and heat thorough. Add the tomatoes and stir, then reduce the heat to simmer. When the pasta is done, add the reserved cooking liquid to the sauce before draining.

Add the drained pasta back to the pot along with the butter and cheese. Toss to coat, then add the sauce and stir to combine. Serve immediately.

This is one of many “Yum-o!” recipes – it’s good and good for you. To find out more about Yum-o!, Rachael’s nonprofit organization, go to

  • Cassie Dobson

    This is one of our favorite meals! I make it at least once a month. I can never seem to find broccoli rabe, so I just use regular broccoli. I’ll also throw some kale in if there’s any in the garden. I do use two cans of chickpeas though. I purée one and throw one in whole. Even my 1 1/2 year old loves it!

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