Inspired by Andy Baraghani’s travels through Italy, this recipe melds jumbo shells with spiced lamb sausage and bracing broccoli rabe that tucks into every nook and cranny. “The bitter broccoli rabe cuts through the sausage party,” Baraghani says, “while raw—not toasted—pistachios bring a fresh buttery crunch.” Don’t expect bottom-of-the-bowl sauce here—in Italy, cooks use just enough sauce to perfectly coat the noodles.
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Trim thick stems from broccoli rabe and reserve for another use (like a stir-fry). Coarsely chop greens and remaining tender stems; set aside.
Heat oil in a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium-high. Using your hands, grab small clumps of sausage (you’re going for rustic meatballs about the size of a golf ball) and add to pot. Cook, turning each piece as it becomes crusty, until deeply golden brown all over, about 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer sausage to a plate, leaving fat behind. Remove pot from heat and reserve. If sausage has given off a lot of fat, tip some of it into a bowl; you want about 2 Tbsp. left in the pot (save the rest for another use—like frying eggs).
Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of generously salted boiling water, stirring occasionally, until just shy of al dente, about 1 minute less than package directions (it’ll finish cooking in the sauce). Drain pasta, reserving 1½ cups pasta cooking liquid.
Set reserved pot with fat over medium-low heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring and scraping up any browned bits, until softened slightly, about 2 minutes. Add reserved broccoli rabe, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, until greens are wilted and bright green, about 4 minutes. Return sausage to pot along with any juices on the plate. Break up sausage into smaller but still coarse pieces with a wooden spoon.
Add butter, pasta, and ¾ cup pasta cooking liquid to pot. Cook, tossing often and adding more pasta cooking liquid a tablespoon or two at a time if needed, until pasta is coated in sauce, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat, add lemon zest and lemon juice, and toss to coat.
Divide pasta among bowls and top with pistachios and Parmesan.