Orecchiette with sausage and broccoli is a dish that I have been making for my family since my kids were toddlers and it was made for me by my Mom. This pasta with sausage and broccoli is really big on flavor, loved by everyone of all ages and so easy to make.
About this pasta with sausage and broccoli
This garlic and oil pasta with broccoli and sausage uses a small shaped pasta called orecchiette.
Orecchiette means little ears in Italian and it is the perfect shape pasta for holding the olive oil sauce and sausage in this recipe. It also has just the right amount of chew to make the dish interesting.
Orecchiette with sausage and broccoli is also a classic Italian pasta recipe that is so easy to make, rustic and delicious. The Italians love this dish because of its simplicity and that it is cooked and on the table in 30 minutes.
The Italian sausage in this recipe
I love making this sausage and broccoli pasta with sweet or spicy Italian sausage (depending on if I want spicy or sweet). Just make sure the sausage that you use is Italian sausage.
The spices of the Italian sausage are part of the flavor of this recipe.
You can also opt to not use sausage in this recipe if you prefer a meatless meal. I do make it without the sausage if I am out of it and it tastes just as amazing.
Preparing the Italian sausage for the pasta
You will want to make sure you remove the casing of the Italian sausage before you cook it so the sausage crumbles and gets all nicely browned. To do this you cut down the side of the Italian sausage then remove the casings from the sausage.
You then break up the sausage meat with your hands into a heated pan and brown it up until crisp. This step is done before adding the broccoli.
For this orecchiette and sausage recipe, I chose to use broccoli. You can also use broccolini or broccoli rabe in place of broccoli.
I often will use broccolini which is just baby broccoli and it tastes delicious.
Broccoli rabe is a little more bitter so make sure you like that if you do decide to use it. I believe that broccoli was invented (cultivated) from combining broccoli rabe and cauliflower.
I am not sure if it was to get rid of the bitterness or for more practical purposes. Traditionally, Italians will use broccoli rabe for this dish though.
The traditional Italian pasta dish is called Orecchiette and broccoli rabe.
Using broccoli rabe as a substitute for broccoli
If you do decide to use broccoli rabe, make sure to cook it a bit longer than you would the broccoli and add a little more Parmesan cheese when serving to offset the bitterness. I will also like to add a squeeze of fresh lemon at the end of cooking.
To make the authentic Italian Orecchiette and Broccoli rabe, this is the way to go. I use whatever is available most often.
I have used all of these broccoli variations with great success so I know they will all be delicious
Tips for making this pasta with broccoli and sausage
I love when I have leftover orecchiette with sausage and broccoli because it makes great leftovers for lunch dinner the next day. Honestly this doesn't happen often because it usually is eaten up.
Re-heating this sausage and broccoli pasta is very simple. Just add individual portions to a bowl and place a moist paper towel over top.
Place the bowl in the microwave to re-heat it. You should need no more than 2-3 minutes to get it nice and hot.
Making it ahead of time
If you want to get a jump start on this recipe, you can prep the broccoli and garlic ahead of time. For the sausage, you can remove the sausage from the casings and refrigerate so that part is ready.
When it is time for dinner all you need to do is throw everything into a pan and cook.
Choosing your ingredients
When you are choosing your ingredients for this orecchiette with sausage and broccoli, make sure you use all great quality ingredients. When you have only a few ingredients in a recipe, they will stand out more.
Do not skimp on the Parmesan either. Buy the real stuff which should say made in Italy!
If you have leftovers of this orecchiette pasta, let it come to almost room temperature and then place in a bowl with a tight fitting lid and place in your fridge. It will last for a few days.
More delicious Italian pasta recipes you might like
- Italian Macaroni and Cheese
- Spaghetti with Pork Bolognese
- Pesto Pasta
- Pasta Carbonara
- Pasta Aglio e Olio
- Pasta Genovese
- Authentic Bolognese
- Italian Sunday Gravy
- Pasta with Pancetta and Mushrooms
- Pasta with Brussels Sprouts
Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli
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- 1 large head of broccoli cleaned, stalks trimmed and cut into small florets
- 4 Italian sausage links (sweet, mild or hot) Optional. you can omit this if you want a meatless meal.
- 1 small Spanish onion or shallot optional
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 1 box of orecchiette pasta you can also use fusilli, ziti or penne
- ½ cup finely grated fresh parmesan cheese
- ¼- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes depending on how much heat you like. Most of the heat gets cooked out during the cooking process
- ¼ cup of olive oil
- ½ cup of pasta water reserved
- salt and pepper to taste about 1 teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon pepper
- Place a large pot of water on stove to boil for the pasta
- Cut up head of broccoli into florets
- Finely dice garlic and thinly slice your onion
- Pour ½ of your olive oil into a saute pan over medium heat and add the red pepper flakes
- Now grab your sausages and with a sharp knife, make a cut through the casings. Remove the casings from the sausages and discard.
- Brown your sausage, breaking it up into pieces in the oil until brown and fully cooked.
- Add onions and saute for 5 minutes
- Add your garlic and cook another 2 minutes
- Once onions are cooked through and translucent, add the broccoli to the same pan and saute until the broccoli is tender (adding any extra olive oil if needed- broccoli soaks up olive oil so add more if the pan seems dry) about 8-10 minutes
- season with salt and pepper.
- Reduce heat to low
- When pasta water comes to a boil salt the water with a good handful of salt (like the saltiness of the ocean) and cook pasta according to directions until al dente
- When pasta is done reserve 1 cup of pasta water and then strain
- Add pasta to saute pan and mix pasta in with the broccoli until well combined and adding reserved pasta water if it looks to dry.
- Plate your pasta and finish with a generous sprinkling of fresh parmesan cheese.
Nutrition Values are estimates only.See full nutrition disclaimer here