Sauce of Broccoli Rabe with Ceci and Bacon Sauce

serves: makes enough for 1 pound of pasta

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup garlic, sliced
½ teaspoon dried peperoncino, or to taste
6 ounces bacon or prosciutto end, in strips
1½ cups chickpeas, cooked
hot water, from the pasta-cooking pot
2 pounds broccoli di rabe, trimmed and cut
½ teaspoon salt, or so to taste
1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated


Start cooking the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water 5 minutes before you start the sauce if you are using dry pasta or just after you have started the sauce if using fresh pasta. Pour 1/3 cup of the olive oil into the big skillet, scatter the garlic and bacon or prosciutto slices in and set the pan over medium-high heat. Cook for 1 minute or so until the sizzling starts.

Toast the peperoncino in a hot spot for 1/2 minute; stir in with the garlic and bacon. Cook for another 2-1/2 minutes or more, shaking the pan and stirring now and then, until the bacon has rendered its fat and is crisping.

Pour the ceci into the skillet and ladle in 2 cups of hot water from the pasta cooking pot. Stir briefly and bring the liquid to a boil.

Dump the broccoli di rabe pieces on top of the other ingredients, place a cover on the pan and let the greens steam and wilt for a minute or so.

Uncover and stir in the broccoli di rabe and another 1-1/2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Lower the heat to maintain an active simmer and cook the sauce, covered, for 6 to 8 minutes, until the beans and green are quite tender. (You can start cooking dry pasta at this time, too.)

Uncover the pan and taste the sauce; add salt if you wish. If the sauce seems soupy, raise the heat and cook until there's only a shallow layer of liquid around the vegetables. Keep the sauce barely simmering until the pasta is ready.

When the pasta is done almost al dente, scoop it up and into the skillet to finish cooking. Add the parsley during the initial tossing; toss in the cheese and the remaining olive oil, off the heat, just before serving.