You can’t judge a box by its cover. For example, take the Wheaties box of my youth, with a big photo of Bruce Jenner in red, white, and blue short-shorts and wispy hair, urging us to eat The Breakfast of Champions. Who knew?
Who knew that wheat has been cultivated for nearly 10,000 years, originating in the Fertile Crescent (around the Rivers Jordan, Nile, Tigris, and Euphrates) and is now grown on more than 500 million acres of land. And who knew that there were so many varieties of wheat, ranging from soft bread wheat to the hard Durum wheat used to make pasta? And then there are sub-varieties of Durum wheat, like today’s pasta which is made from Tumminia wheat, an ancient variety, indigenous to Sicily and one of the oldest in Italy. It has a low yield, so it isn’t very popular with farmers who want to squeeze the most from their land.
But luckily for us, the makers of this delicious Sicilian pasta care more about tradition, uniqueness, and quality than they do about crop yield. A whole wheat pasta, milled by stone at Molini del Ponte, in Castelvetrano, Sicily, it has a distinctive dark color, sweet aroma, and intense flavor. I adapted their recipe for this unexpected treat of Busiate con Rapini e Salsiccia.
Like I said, you can’t judge a box (or pasta bag) by its cover.
P.S. Check out our wine pairings to complement this dish.
In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté the onion, carrot, and celery for about ten minutes until translucent. Add the red pepper, fennel seeds, and sausage. Mix well until the sausage is no longer pink. Add the pancetta and after a couple of minutes, the white wine. Raise the heat and cook for a few minutes, allowing the alcohol to evaporate. Reduce heat to low, add salt and cover. Cook for about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, wash the broccoli rabe, clean, and chop coarsely. When the sausage sauce is well cooked, add the broccoli rabe, cover and cook 2 minutes.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta until al dente, drain it, reserving a little cooking water.
Add the pasta to the pan with the sausage and broccoli. Mix well, adding some water if it seems dry.
Serve immediately with a sprinkle of Pecorino.