Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli is an easy weeknight dinner made in 30 minutes! Simple Italian pasta dish with lots of flavor that everyone will love.
ORECCHIETTE WITH SAUSAGE AND BROCCOLI
You may have seen this southern Italian dish made with broccoli rabe. Also known as rapini, broccoli rabe has a similar taste and bitterness as mustard greens. To make Orecchiette with Sausage more family friendly, this recipe uses broccoli instead. Not only is broccoli easier for kids to love, it also cooks in half the time so this dish is ready in about 25 minutes.
This is a simple, classic Italian recipe perfect for beginners. Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli is a rustic dish using a handful of ingredients to make a flavorful dish without any complicated steps. For newer home cooks, this recipe is great to show how little techniques, like using pasta water, make a big impact on a dish.
If you have never reserved pasta water for sauce, now is the time to start! Pasta water adds a silkiness to the sauce and the starches act as a thickener, giving you a silky thick garlic sauce. Start with about an ⅛ cup pasta water and add by tablespoons until you get the consistency you like.
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What is Orecchiette?
The type of pasta makes a difference in this dish too. Orecchiette means small ear in Italian and that’s what these curved pasta shells resemble. The slight indent is almost like a bowl, perfect for scooping up the sausage crumbles, cheese, and garlic in the delicious sauce. Always cook pasta just below al dente so they can finish cooking in the sauce without getting mushy.
What to serve with this pasta?
Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli is an easy, complete meal in under 30 minutes. If you want to add side dishes to your dinner, Dinner Rolls and a garden salad are perfect and quick to make. For a restaurant-style dinner, top your salad with this Olive Garden Dressing Copycat and start with a bowl of Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana Soup.
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VARIATIONS ON ORECCHIETTE WITH SAUSAGE AND BROCCOLI
- Sausage: Use other types of sausage, like turkey sausage or chicken sausage, instead of pork. You can also use other ground meat with a tablespoon or two Italian seasoning blend for flavor.
- Spicy: Substitute hot Italian sausage for the sweet Italian sausage and increase to a ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes for a spicier pasta dish.
- Chicken Broth: To give the light sauce in Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli more depth and flavor, deglaze your pan with chicken broth or white wine.
- Pasta: Use any pasta you like with this dish, but the ones with indents or groves to collect the light sauce are best. Try other shaped pasta like farfalle, fusilli, or conchiglie (shells), or tube pastas like rigatoni or ziti.
- Veggies: Try this dish with other veggies like kale, spinach, red peppers, or broccolini. Either replace the broccoli or just use half the broccoli and another vegetable.
- Broccoli Rabe: To make Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe, you will need to blanch the broccoli rabe first to remove some of the bitterness. Broccoli rabe should cook about twice as long as broccoli, the longer it cooks the more mellow it will taste.
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HOW TO STORE ORECCHIETTE WITH SAUSAGE AND BROCCOLI
- Serve: Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli can be kept at room temperature for up to 2 hours before you need to store it.
- Store: Cool the pasta dish completely and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- Freeze: Once the pasta has cooled down, place in a sealed container and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Reheat on the stovetop, adding 1 tablespoons olive oil if the sauce is too dry.
- 1 pound orecchiette pasta
- 1 pound Sweet Italian sausage , removed from casings
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cups broccoli florets
- 4 cloves garlic , minced
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/2 cup pasta water
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- Cook pasta one minute shy of the directions then drain BUT save ½ cup of the pasta water.
- Add olive oil to the pot with sausage and cook for about 5-6 minutes, breaking it apart as you cook it until browned.
- Add broccoli, garlic, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to pot and cook for 5-6 minutes, until broccoli has softened.
- Add drained pasta to the pot, stir well to combine and add in pasta water, parmesan cheese, stirring until it makes a light sauce.