This orecchiette with sausage and broccoli is a classic Italian pasta and so easy to make. The perfect weeknight dinner.
About this pasta with sausage and broccoli
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. It is a classic Italian pasta that Italian families make and it couldn't be any easier.
This pasta with broccoli and sausage uses a small shaped pasta called orecchiette.
If you have never tried orecchiette pasta, it 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 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.
I know you will love it too for the same reasons.
- Italian sausage (sweet, mild or hot)
- Spanish onion
- Orecchiette pasta you can also use fusilli, ziti or penne
- Parmesan cheese
- Red pepper flakes
- Olive oil
- Kosher salt and pepper
The best Italian sausage for pasta with broccoli and sausage
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.
How to remove Italian sausage casings
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 middle 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.
You can also just buy Italian sausage that is not in a casing if you prefer. This is a great recipe for loose Italian sausage if you want an even easier meal than this one and don't want to mess with the sausage casings.
How to make
Making this pasta with broccoli and sausage is so easy. Here is what it looks like (full recipe below):
- Bring water to a boil: for the pasta
- Brown your sausage: break it up into pieces in the oil until brown and fully cooked.
- Cook onions and garlic
- Cook broccoli
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Cook Pasta: reserve some pasta water
- Mix it all together: Add pasta to broccoli and sausage and mix well until well combined. Add reserved pasta water if it looks to dry.
- Plate and top with fresh parmesan cheese.
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 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) by 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.
Substituting broccoli rabe 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 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
I love it when I have leftover orecchiette with sausage and broccoli because it makes great leftovers for lunch or 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 reheat 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 it 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 it in a bowl with a tight-fitting lid and place it in your fridge. It will last for a few days.
More recipes with sausage:
If you love this orecchiette with sausage and broccoli, you may also like these:
More delicious Italian pasta recipes you might like
- Italian Macaroni and Cheese
- Pork Bolognese
- Pesto Pasta
- Pasta Carbonara
- Pasta Aglio e Olio
- Pasta Genovese
- Authentic Bolognese
- Pork Chops in Tomato Sauce
- Pasta with Pancetta and Mushrooms
- Pasta with Brussels Sprouts
- Ham Pasta
Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli
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- 1 large head of broccoli cleaned, stalks trimmed and cut into small florets
- 1 lb Orecchiette pasta you can also use fusilli, ziti or penne
- 4 Italian sausage links (sweet, mild or hot) You can omit this if you want a meatless meal.
- 1 small Spanish onion or shallot thin sliced
- 4 Garlic cloves minced
- ½ cup finely grated fresh parmesan cheese
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes or more depending on how much heat you like. Most of the heat gets cooked out during the cooking process
- ¼ cup of olive oil divided
- ½ cup of pasta water reserved
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt and pepper plus more to taste
- Place a large pot of water on stove to boil for the pasta
- Pour ½ of your olive oil into a saute pan over medium heat and add the red pepper flakes¼ cup of olive oil, ¼ teaspoon 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 and add sausage to pan and discard. casings.4 Italian sausage links (sweet, mild or hot)
- Brown your sausage, breaking it up into pieces in the oil until brown and fully cooked.
- Once the sausage is cooked through, because you want to get that sausage nice and caramelized, press it down in the pan so all of the sausage is making contact with the hot pan and let it continue to cook for a a few minutes.
- Push sausage to one side of the pan an add the onions and saute for 5 minutes or until lightly browned.1 small Spanish onion or shallot
- Add your garlic and cook another 2 minutes4 Garlic cloves
- Once onions are cooked through and translucent, add the broccoli and remaining olive oil to the pan and saute until the broccoli is tender about 8-10 minutes.1 large head of broccoli
- Season with salt and pepper.1 teaspoon kosher 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 dente1 lb Orecchiette pasta
- When pasta is done reserve 1 cup of pasta water and then strain½ cup of pasta water reserved
- 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.½ cup finely grated fresh parmesan cheese
Nutrition Values are estimates only.See full nutrition disclaimer here