This Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccolini is a light pasta dish, yet packed with flavors. Sweet broccolini, tasty sausages, bright lemon & al dente pasta. It’s a perfectly balanced one dish meal!
Early on during the pandemic, Bryan and I found a small Italian restaurant, Sorelle Italian Bistro through Yelp. We decided to order take-outs from them. We have gone there a few times already ever since. One of their popular dishes is Cavatelli alla Mammella, which is cavatelli pasta cooked with bitter greens, chili flakes & sausage. Unlike most pasta dish, this one was light, yet very flavorful. I definitely want to learn and make something similar.
Then one weekend, we were listening to our favorite food podcast, The Sporkful. It was an interview with a butcher who makes amazing sausages with vegetables, like beets, potatoes and broccoli. A sausage with more flavors and healthier? Why not? I love the idea! The butcher mentioned one of the recipes that she likes to cook her sausages with is this orecchiette recipe. It sounded good, so I went to their website and found this recipe. Wait! That just looked like the cavatelli dish that I liked so much from the Italian restaurant.
So here we are! I tried the pasta using her Broccoli Melt Sausages. It was incredible and very similar to the one from the Italian restaurant. If you don’t want to use these particular sausages, mild Italian sausages definitely work too.
There’re 3 main ingredients for this pasta dish, sausage, broccolini, and orecchiette. First blanch the broccolini in boiling water to cook them a little bit. I like to separate the florets and stalks, because the stalks are much thicker and take longer to cook. Then cut the broccolini into bite size pieces. Next, cook the pasta and remember to save some pasta water. Meanwhile, brown the sausages and break them into smaller pieces. Toss in minced garlic and red pepper flakes. Add the chopped broccolini, butter, pasta and some pasta water. Let them cook for a couple minutes. Last toss in the pasta and cheese. Not to forget the lemon zest and lemon juice, that helps to brighten up the flavors even more. Sprinkle with more cheese to serve. That’s it!
Savory, but bright flavors! This is a perfectly balance pasta with lots of vegetables and little bit of meat. There is no milk or cream in the recipe. It’s pretty healthy and no doubt a great one dish meal for the weeknights. Enjoy!
Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccolini
- ¾ pound broccolini (also called broccolette)
- 8 ounces orecchiette pasta
- 2 Seemore Broccoli Melt sausages or mild Italian sausages
- 1½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves (smashed and minced)
- Dash of red pepper flakes
- 1½ tablespoons unsalted butter
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Juice of ½ lemon
- 1/3 cup Parmesan, plus more for serving (grated)
- Ground black pepper
- Bring a large pot of water (salted) to a boil over high heat.
- Wash the broccolini and trim off the rough end. Separate the stalks and the florets. Add the stalks to the boiling water and blanch for 1 minute. Then, add the florets and blanch everything for 1 more minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the broccolini to a large plate to cool. Keep the pot of water boiling.
- Cook the pasta in the boiling water until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water. Drain pasta. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, cut the sausage lengthwise. Remove the casings of the sausage. Crumble the sausage into ½-inch pieces by hands. Transfer to a small bowl.
- Once the broccolini are cool enough to handle, place them on a chopping board. Cut the florets into 1-inch long pieces. If the stalks are a bit thick, cut them into thinner pieces, then cut into 1-inch long as well.
- In a Dutch oven or large skillet over medium heat, warm 1½ tablespoons olive oil (use only ½ tablespoons for Italian sausages). Add the sausage pieces and break them up even more with a wooden spatula. Cook until golden brown. (If using Italian sausages, you may want to use some paper towels to absorb some of the fat.)
- Add garlic and red pepper flakes. Add 1/3 cup pasta water. Let it cook for 2 minutes. Add the chopped brocollini and butter. If it starts to dry out, add a bit more pasta water. Cook for 2 minutes.
- Turn the heat down to medium-low. Add cooked pasta. Stir everything together and cook for 2 more minutes. Add lemon zest and lemon juice. Add more pasta water if needed. Toss in Parmesan cheese. Taste and adjust with salt and pepper. Transfer to serving plates. Top with extra Parmesan if desired. Serve immediately.
- If you can’t find broccolini, you can use broccoli or even broccoli rabe. But broccoli rabe has a more bitter taste than broccolini.
- Seemore sausages can be bought through their website or from Whole Foods.
- Seemore sausages are fully cooked out of the package, and it doesn’t release much fat during the cooking process. If you’re using Italian sausages and you don’t want too much fat in your pasta, soak up the fat using paper towels after the sausages are done cooking.