My Neapolitan Cabbie's Baked Ziti with Broccoli Rabe and Hot Italian Sausage

Serves 6

Salt, pepper

1 pound broccoli rabe

1 pound ziti, rigatoni or penne

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 pound hot Italian sausage, homemade (see recipe) or store-bought, casings removed

2 cups canned chopped tomatoes, preferably San Marzano

1 teaspoon dried basil

2 cups shredded provolone or pecorino cheese, divided

1. Bring 4 quarts water to a boil in a large pot; add 1 tablespoon salt and the broccoli rabe. Boil 3 to 5 minutes, until tender. Drain, coarsely chop and set aside.

2. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Oil a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.

3. In another large pot, bring 4 to 6 quarts water to a boil. Add 3 tablespoons salt and pasta; cook 10 to 12 minutes, until al dente. Drain.

4. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage; cook for 5 minutes, breaking it up with a fork. Add tomatoes and basil; reduce heat and simmer until sauce just thickens. Stir in broccoli rabe.

5. In a large bowl, combine the pasta, sauce and 1 cup cheese. Season to taste. Spoon mixture into baking dish, sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes.

-- Bruce Aidells, "The Great Meat Cookbook" (Houghton Mifflin, $40, 632 pages)