March 8, 2012

Open-Faced Broccoli Rabe and Spicy Sausage Sandwiches

Sausage Sandwich 4

Back when we lived up by Columbia for a few years, we used to frequent this little Italian restaurant named Max's that was so, so good. My favorite dish was their orecchiette with broccoli rabe and spicy sausage. It's one of those dishes that has perfection in every bite - garlicky, spicy perfection. I'm sure they had other good stuff on their menu, but I wouldn't know because I got the orecchiete every. single. time.

Sausage Sandwich 1

Sausage Sandwich 2

This dish recreates that perfect flavor combo but in sandwich form. Crusty sliced bread topped with a garlicky bean paste, spicy Italian sausage from the one and only Esposito & Son's, sauteed broccoli rabe, and sliced provolone. All stuck in the broiler for one fantastic meal.

Sausage Sandwich Assembly

If you want to make these vegetarian-friendly, I would just add a little more kick to the bean paste, and then possibly a little more broccoli rabe on top. Delicious!

Sausage Sandwich 3

Open-Faced Broccoli Rabe and Spicy Sausage Sandwiches
Adapted from Bon Appetit (February 2012)

(Printable version)

6 Tbsp olive oil, divided
3 cloves garlic,  peeled thinly sliced
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
3 cups cannelini beans cooked + 1 cup water OR 1 can (15 oz) cannelini beans with liquid
Salt and pepper, to taste

1/2 lb spicy Italian sausage, sliced 1/4 inch thick

2 bunches broccoli rabe, ends trimmed
1/4 cup olive oil
6 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp lemon juice

2 large ciabatta rolls (or bread of your choice) sliced in half
4 ounces provolone, sliced

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

For the bean paste: Heat 3 Tbsp oil in saucepan over medium-low heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until garlic has turned golden brown - being careful not to burn. Add in beans with liquid/water and bring to a simmer. Allow to cook for about 10 more minutes, stirring occasionally, until mixture thickens. Transfer to food processor and add remaining 3 Tbsp olive oil. Process until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Cook italian sausage in large skillet over medium-high heat until lightly browned and heated through. Set aside.

For the broccoli rabe: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add both bunches of broccoli rabe to the water and cook for 2 minutes. Remove broccoli to a strainer and rinse with cool water. Pat/squeeze dry and roughly chop.
In a large skillet over medium heat, add 1/4 cup of oil with the garlic and red pepper flakes. Allow to cook until garlic is golden brown. Add in chopped broccoli rabe. Continue cooking, stirring often, until broccoli is tender, about 3-5 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

To assemble: Arrange rolls cut side up on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread a layer of the bean paste on each piece of bread. Top with a layer of the sausage. Top that with a generous layer of the broccoli rabe. Finish off with one layer of cheese on each.
Place in oven until bread is toasted and cheese is melted, about 6-8 minutes. If you'd like, place in broiler until cheese is bubbly and golden brown. Enjoy!
Serves four.

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