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Ultimate Sausage and Broccoli Rabe Sandwiches

This is my dad, Salvatore's favorite sandwich. To him it's really the Ultimate Sandwich. Made with a foccaccia roll brushed with garlic oil and topped with salt and pepper like we used to do back in our pizzeria days, it really is to die for. My Dad loves the combination of sausage and broccoli rabe with melted provolone.
  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 2 hr 10 min (includes resting times)
  • Active: 50 min
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings
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Focaccia Rolls:

4 tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic

1 pound ball fresh pizza dough (such as Laura's Basic Pizza Dough, recipe follows) or store-bought pizza dough

All-purpose flour, for dusting

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves, chopped

Generous pinch of sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Sandwich Fixin's:

2 cloves garlic

4 tablespoons olive oil

Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

2 bunches broccoli rabe (about 1 1/2 pounds), washed, trimmed, cut and tough stems removed

Generous pinch of sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

6 to 9 links mild Italian sausage, halved lengthwise

8 to 12 slices provolone

Laura's Basic Pizza Dough:

1 1/3 cups warm water (110 degrees F)

2 1/2 teaspoons sugar

One 1/4-ounce envelope active dry yeast

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing

3 teaspoons salt

3 1/2 to 4 cups Italian 00 flour or, if you cant get your hands on it, regular all-purpose flour will do


  1. For the focaccia rolls: Place the oil in a small bowl and grate the garlic with a fine grater. Mix and set aside.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  3. Place the dough on a floured surface and flatten it out with your hands just a bit. Cut the dough into 4 or 6 triangles. Place them on the parchment-lined baking sheet and, with a small sharp knife, cut a few slits in the top of each.
  4. Brush some of the garlic oil on top of each triangle and sprinkle over the rosemary, salt and pepper. Cover the triangles with a lint-free towel and allow to rest for about an hour in a warm spot.
  5. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  6. Bake the rolls until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes.
  7. For the sandwich fixin's: Slice the garlic. In a large skillet with high sides, add 2 tablespoons of the oil and the garlic and cook over medium heat until lightly golden, about 2 minutes. Add the crushed red pepper flakes and cook for 30 more seconds.
  8. Add the broccoli rabe and cover for 1 minute to help it wilt a bit. Add about 1/2 cup water, season with the salt and pepper and continue to cook, covered, until quite wilted and all the water has evaporated, 7 to 10 minutes.
  9. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over a heat level between medium and medium high. Add the sausages cut-side down and cook until fully cooked, golden brown and slightly crispy, 3 minutes per side.
  10. To assemble the sandwiches, cut each focaccia roll in half horizontally, top the bottom half with 3 pieces of cooked sausage, a handful of broccoli rabe and 2 slices of provolone. Place the top half of the roll on the sandwich and dig in!

Laura's Basic Pizza Dough:

Yield: dough for 2 pizzas
  1. Add the warm water in a small bowl and sprinkle over 1 teaspoon of the sugar and the yeast; set aside so the yeast can proof.
  2. Oil two bowls with a little olive oil and set aside. 
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough attachment, mix together the olive oil, salt, 3 1/2 cups of the flour and the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar. Stir the yeast in the water to make sure its all dissolved and add it to the flour mixture. Mix on medium-low speed until everything is combined. Increase the speed to medium and allow the machine to knead the dough, adding more flour if necessary, until it is smooth and comes away from the side of the bowl, 6 to 7 minutes. 
  4. Divide the dough in two pieces and roll each into a ball. Place a ball in each of the oiled bowls seam-side down, and brush the tops with a little oil to stop them from drying out. Cover the bowls with plastic wrap and place in a warm place (inside a microwave or a turned-off oven works best) until it doubles in size and when poked with a finger, the indent remains (it doesn't spring back), about 1 1/2 hours.
  5. Once the dough has risen, use immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.

Cook’s Note

If you don't have time to make your own pizza dough, buy some from your local pizzeria. You'll be glad you did -- because nothing tastes better than a home-baked roll. And if you've got no time for baking, just use any crusty roll you can get your hands on. Instead of using broccoli rabe, you can make the sandwiches with broccoli, broccolini or even spinach in a pinch.

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