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Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe Pesto and Fennel Sausage Recipe

“The sign of a great recipe is when its leftovers are just as exciting as eating the meal fresh. I love to save this fresh, homemade pesto for the next day as a spread or freeze to enjoy later.” – Joseph Carr, Founder, Josh Cellars

Our Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe Pesto and Fennel Sausage recipe was developed as a versatile, Italian classic that perfectly pairs with our balanced Chardonnay. The combination of the earthy fennel sausage and the sweet, nuttiness of the pesto is guaranteed to be a crowd favorite all year round.


  • Sea salt
  • 1 bunch broccoli rabe, trimmed
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • ¼ cup pistachios (walnuts or pine nuts can be substituted)
  • ¼ to ½ cup olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • ½ pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seed
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, plus more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 pound orecchiette
  • Freshly grated Parmesan


  • Bring large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the broccoli rabe, stir, and cook until the rabe is bright green and stems are barely tender.
  • Drain and run the rabe under cold water. Let cool and then squeeze to remove any excess liquid. Separate out a handful of florets and set aside to use as topping. Roughly chop the remaining rabe.
  • Transfer the chopped rabe to a food processor and add pistachios, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and ½ cup of the Parmesan; blitz until a relatively smooth mixture, adding more olive oil as needed. Season with salt and pepper to taste; tweak the seasoning as needed. Set aside.
  • In a medium skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the sausage, reduce heat to medium, and cook using a wooden spoon to break it up. Add the fennel seed, red pepper, and rosemary, and continue cooking until meat is brown, about 8 minutes total.
  • Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the orecchiette according to package directions; drain, reserving ½ cup of the pasta water. Return pasta to the pot, add about 1 cup of the reserved pesto along with the spiced sausage. Toss to combine, adding a bit of the reserved pasta water as needed to moisten. Taste for seasoning and serve topped with freshly grated Parmesan. NOTE: The leftover pesto can be frozen in an airtight container for up to 2 months.

Wine Pairing

Josh Cellars Chardonnay

We suggest pairing our hand-crafted Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe Pesto and Fennel Sausage with our Josh Cellars Chardonnay. Our Chardonnay combines tastes of honey and bright citrus, with hints of juicy peach and a touch of oak character, delivering a well-balanced wine that complements this pasta. If you want alternatives to Chardonnay, try some of our other wines that pair well with this dish:

Looking for other recipe ideas to pair with our Chardonnay? We also love it with shrimp, steamed mussels, creamy pastas, roasted chicken, and grilled vegetables.

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Orecchiette with Pesto and Fennel Sausage