Orecchiette with sausage is one of those staple dishes that every Italian cook makes. I mean...you can't go wrong with sausage and pasta. It is also one of those dishes that is so versatile. You can change it up so many ways according to your taste or your kids taste. Unfortunately, my children do not like the traditional broccoli rabe. That's okay, because it makes me experiment with all kinds of options. Spinach is a fantastic substitute for sure. You will still get wonderful health benefits with a milder flavor kids are usually okay with. Then...go crazy. It usually turns out different every time I make it, but this particular night I happen to have some zucchini and beautiful cherry tomatoes in the refrigerator. So, let's add all of them together. And...don't forget the cannolini beans... yummmm!!!
ORECCHIETTE WITH SAUSAGE AND MORE!!
1 LB ORECCHIETTE PASTA 1 1/2 LBS ITALIAN SAUSAGE OF YOUR CHOICE (SWEET...HOT...BOTH OR I LOVE THE FLAVORED WITH TOMATO/BASIL OR CHEESE/PARSLEY) 1 MEDIUM ONION CHOPPED 8 CLOVES OF GARLIC 1 BAG OF SPINACH FINELY CHOPPED 1 LARGE OR 2 SMALL ZUCCHINI 1 PINT CHERRY TOMATOES 1 CAN CANNELLINI BEANS 1 CUPS CHICKEN BROTH 1/2 CUP PARMESAN CHEESE OLIVE OIL SALT & PEPPER
Start by heating 3 tblsp of oil in a large saute pan. Add the chopped onion and garlic and saute just for a few minutes until soft. Remove the sausage from its casing and break it up. Add it to the pan and brown until cooked through well.
The sausage I used was a Italian sausage with tomato and basil. That's why you see the color in there. I like to use a sausage like this, it just adds more flavors, but a regular sweet sausage is perfectly fine also. Hot is great too if you like more heat. The key is....use whatever you get your hands on first.
While the sausage is browning you can chop up your spinach, slice up the zucchini and halve the cherry tomatoes.
You can also boil your salted water and cook the pasta as directed saving a cup of the pasta water when done.
When cooked through go ahead and add the spinach and zucchini first just until beginning to wilt and zucchini is getting softer. Then add the beans and cherry tomatoes and chicken broth. Let it all cook together until the veggies are all soft.
Now, normally I would add the pasta right into the same pan, mix it up with the cup of pasta water and let it absorb each others flavors for a few minutes. Unfortunately, I have cooked for an army again and will not be able to fit it all into one pan. No problem though, just put it all on top of the pasta in a larger bowl, add the reserved pasta water and grated cheese on top and mix together. The pasta water and cheese at the end will help create a creamier, smoother suace as it comes together.
Wow...beautiful and delicious!!! Remember, make it your own. Use different sausages or veggies. Experiment...of course it's gonna be good, there's all good stuff in there!! ENJOY!!