This hearty dish is Italian comfort food perfect for cool fall and winter evenings, from Andrew Carmellini’s Urban Italian cookbook. The rich, creamy sauce is made without the use of heavy cream or butter. The secret is that prepared tomato sauce is thickened with pureed chickpeas that add both flavor and texture. I have tried making Chef Carmellini’s basic tomato sauce in the past, but was not successful – I think that recipe calls for too much olive oil. Instead, I used my go-to basic tomato sauce, from Todd English’s Figs cookbook, as the base for this sauce. Cooking takes less than 30 minutes – brown some spicy Italian sausage, puree chickpeas in a blender, and simmer with tomato sauce for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, boil water, blanch the broccoli rabe for 90 seconds, then saute in olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes, and chickpeas. Boil the rigatoni, toss with the sauce, and top with the broccoli rabe, chickpeas, and grated parmesan or pecorino. The recipe calls for adding additional butter and olive oil when tossing the pasta with the sauce, but I think the sauce is definitely good enough to stand on its own.
Link to recipe here.