Orecchiette with Broccolini and Italian Sausage

1 year ago 771
Orecchiette with broccolini and italian sausage

orecchiette

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 rapinihas 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

Ingredient prep work for orecchiette

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!

5.0 from 3 reviews
Orecchiette with Broccolini and Italian Sausage
 
Prep time
10 mins
Cook time
20 mins
Total time
30 mins
 
A delicious pasta dish with orecchiette, broccolini and sweet Italian sausage - a weeknight pasta dish, packed with flavor!
Author:
Recipe type: Pasta dish
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4
Ingredients
¾ lb. orecchiette pasta 10 oz. sweet (mild) Italian Sausage 8 oz. broccolini, trimmed ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil 1 med. shallot, minced 4 lrg. garlic cloves, minced ½ tsp. sea salt ¼-½ tsp. red pepper flakes --- --- zest of a small lemon ¾ cup Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
Instructions
Remove the casing from the sausage and discard it. Depending on the sausage you are using, this may mean removing the casing from one or two sausages. Take a small piece of the sausage meat and shape it into little meatballs. Place on a plate and set them aside. Trim slightly the broccolini and cut it into bite size pieces (including the tender stems), about one inch. Set it aside too. Meanwhile, place a large pot of water on the stove and bring it to a boil. Place a 12” skillet over medium high heat and when heated add the olive oil. Carefully add the little meatballs to the skillet (they might splatter a bit) and cook until brown on all sides and cooked through, about 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon remove the meatballs from the skillet and transfer them to a paper towel-lined plate. When the water comes to a boil, season it well with a tablespoon of salt and stir in the broccolini. Boil for about three minutes, then remove it from the pot using a slotted spoon, and plunge the broccolini quickly in an ice bath (a bowl filled with ice-cold water). This will stop the cooking process, preserve the vibrant color of the broccolini, and, keep the texture of the broccolini crisp. Lift the broccolini from the water and place on a colander to drain. Do not empty the water from the pot, as you will need it in Step 7. Add the shallots and the garlic to the same pan used to brown the sausages and season with the salt and the red pepper flakes. Cook until they are softened and lightly brown. Meanwhile, add the orecchiette to the same pot of boiling water used for the broccolini and cook the pasta until al dente (tender but firm). Depending on the pasta, this could be about 7 to 8 minutes. While it cooks, make sure to stir the pasta often so the orecchiette do not nest. Once ready, lift them from the boiling water with a slotted spoon and add them to the skillet with the shallots. Reserve the cooking water for Step 8, below. Toss the pasta to coat with the olive oil, add the lemon zest, the meatballs and the broccolini and toss again. Gently heat everything again, over medium heat. Add about ½ cup of the reserved hot pasta water to the skillet. Shake the pan and stir in the Parmesan cheese. Turn off the heat, toss to incorporate, and serve at once, on warmed plates.
Notes
-- Broccolini has long, slender stems with small florets and it tastes a little like asparagus. It is more delicate and sweeter than broccoli, and is actually a hybrid between broccoli and Chinese broccoli.
-- 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.
3.5.3240

Orecchiette with broccolini and sausage
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