A quick pasta meal is what I often turn to on weeknights when I need to make a quick meal. Orecchiette with broccolini and Italian sausage is a delicious pasta dish that fits the bill. From start to finish, this easy pasta dish takes only thirty minutes to prepare!
I have to admit that I do not often cook dishes that call for pork sausage. Not long ago, however, my friend Cynthia (who has also been a cherished assistant at the cooking school for the past several years), was raving about these sweet Italian sausages that she was able to find at her local butcher’s. When I heard that, I felt like I needed to go see for myself! So, I purchased a couple of links to use for this recipe. Cynthia, as has been the case with all her recommendations, was right about this one too. The sweet (or mild) Italian sausage made this simple dish of orecchiette with broccolini truly delicious and something that reminded me and my family of having the same meal in Puglia many years ago.
Ingredients for Orecchiette with Broccolini and Italian Sausage
What is “Orecchiette”
Orecchiette are a short pasta named after its shape, which in this case resembles a small ear (the Italian word orecchiette mean “little ears”). It is made with just durum wheat, or, semolina and water and they are a tradition in the Puglia region of Italy. If you cannot find them at your local market, you can substitute another short pasta such as conchiglie (shells), farfalle (bowties) or fusilli.
What is the difference between broccoli, broccolini and broccoli rabe?
Broccolini has long, slender stems and small, tender florets. Its stem tastes a little like asparagus. It is more delicate and sweeter than broccoli, and is actually a hybrid between broccoli and Chinese broccoli.
Broccoli rabe, also known as rapini, has a slightly bitter taste. It has thin stalks, little buds, lots of leaves and tastes a bit like mustard greens. It is a very popular ingredient in Italian cooking.
Why should I remove the casing from the sausage?
Sausages can be cooked in their casing, but for this recipe we get better access to the delicious filling by removing the casing. If you are really pressed for time, you can simply crumble the sausage, but for this recipe I formed the sausage meat into little meatballs, which give a more concentrated flavor of the sausage.
Prepping the Ingredients
While the water is boiling, you can get all the ingredients prepped. All you have to do is cut the broccolini into bite-sized pieces, mince the shallots and garlic, zest the lemon, and form the sausage into little meatballs. That’s all!
This simple dish comes together by tossing everything in the skillet and with a generous sprinkle of grated cheese. Since the main ingredients of this dish are all about the same size, you get a little of everything in each delicious bite.
This recipe exemplifies how much intensity and flavor you can get with just a few good ingredients. The clean, pronounced flavors of these simple ingredients do not need to be masked with the addition of cream or wine or tomatoes. A simple addition of some pasta water can make the broccolini and the sausage seem like a match made in heaven!
-- If you like a slightly bitter taste, you can also use broccoli rabe, also known as rapini, instead of broccolini. Broccoli rabe has thin stalks, little buds, lots of leaves and tastes a bit like mustard greens. It is a very popular ingredient in Italian cooking.
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