Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli Recipe - Cooking Classy (2024)

Published June 12, 2021

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Orecchiette Pasta with Sausage and Broccoli is a super simple recipe that uses minimal ingredients yet packs rich, savory, satisfying flavors. It includes hearty pasta, seasoned Italian sausage, tender fresh broccoli, flavorful olive oil, and bold and nutty tasting parmesan.

Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli Recipe - Cooking Classy (1)

What is Orecchiette?

Orecchiette is a type of southern Italian pasta shaped like little ears. The word ‘orecchia’ translates to ‘ear’ while the suffix ‘etta’ translates to ‘small’ or ‘little’.

It is made from semolina flour and can be found in two sizes, but in the U.S. usually just one size (in this recipe we use the larger size that’s about 1/2-inch, the smaller works well for soups).

Orecchiette holds sauces well with it’s bowl form, and it’s a fun unique shape to cook with.

You can purchase it online, or I’ve also found this type of pasta at Target and larger Kroger stores.

You’ll love it in this easy recipe!

Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli Recipe - Cooking Classy (2)

Orecchiette Recipe Ingredients and Possible Substitutes

  • Broccoli crowns: Broccoli rabe will also work here, you’ll just want to include more stem. One large bunch of kale would be another tasty option.
  • Orecchiette pasta: If you are having difficulty tracking down this specialty pasta, you can substitute orecchiette with small shells, mini penne, farfelle, or cavetelli.
  • Salt and pepper: I use regular table salt but kosher salt is great too.
  • Extra virgin olive oil: If you’d like you can use butter here instead.
  • Garlic: Use fresh garlic for best flavor.
  • Italian sausage: Recipe was made with Italian pork sausage but Italian turkey sausage will be great too. Hot or mild may be used depending on what heat you prefer.
  • Parmesan: Romano cheese will make a great substitute if that’s what you have.
  • Red pepper flakes: If you use hot sausage, you won’t need these, unless you want it spicier.
  • Pasta water: I include this in the ingredients list because it is critical to the recipe and we use a generous amount, so just another reminder not to drain it (most recipes will just note it in the directions section of the recipe).

Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli Recipe - Cooking Classy (3)

Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli Recipe - Cooking Classy (4)

How to Make Orecchiette Pasta with Sausage and Broccoli

  1. Boil salted water in pot: Add 4 quarts of water to a large pot, bring to a boil over medium-high heat then season with salt (I use 2 Tbsp).
  2. Cook broccoli in water: Add broccoli to boiling water and cook until tender, about 4 – 5 minutes. Using a spider or a sieve, remove broccoli and transfer to a colander, while leaving water in pot.
  3. Remove broccoli, rinse: Run broccoli under cold water to stop cooking. Drain well. Chop broccoli into smaller pieces.
  4. Cook pasta in same pot: Add pasta to water in pot and boil until it’s just barely al dente, according to times listed on package. Reserve 1 1/2 cups pasta water.
  5. Heat oiled skillet: While pasta is boiling, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil into a 12-inch non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.
  6. Cook sausage in skillet: Crumble sausage in small chunks into skillet and cook, breaking up and tossing occasionally, until cooked through, about 7 minutes. Add garlic during last 2 minutes of cooking the sausage.
  7. Simmer pasta water with sausage, toss in pasta and cook: Pour in 1 cup of the pasta water into the sausage. Let it simmer for about a minute and reduce slightly. Add al dente pasta and cook while tossing, until tender, about 2 minutes.
  8. Add olive oil and pepper flakes: Drizzle in remaining 3 Tbsp olive oil, season with red pepper flakes to taste and toss.
  9. Toss in cheese: Sprinkle in parmesan, and toss to melt into sauce.
  10. Finish with broccoli: Toss in broccoli. Season with salt as needed and pepper to taste.
  11. Thin sauce as needed, garnish servings: Loosen with more pasta water as needed. Drizzle servings with more olive oil if desired, serve with garnished with more parmesan.

Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli Recipe - Cooking Classy (5)

Helpful Tips

  • Remembering pasta water: If you have a hard time remembering to reserve pasta water before draining the pasta, you can set a 2-cup glass measuring cup in the colander in the sink as a reminder to ladle out some of that pasta water and reserve before draining.
  • Don’t sub pasta water: It is critical to use pasta water and not just tap water or even broth because it won’t have the necessary starches to help bind and emulsify the sauce – including the oil, cheese and water.
  • Sear and brown the sausage: Only toss the sausage occasionally while cooking. You want it to brown and not steam. I like to begin with chunks and let them really sear on that first side then start turning and breaking up after a few minutes.
  • Start with a hot skillet: A preheated hot skillet is also critical to achieve a nice sear on the sausage.
  • No soggy pasta: Set a timer for the pasta and only boil close to al dente because it will cook a second time in the skillet to your preferred texture.
  • Keep the sausage fat: Don’t drain that rendered sausage fat! It adds lots of flavor here.
  • Add extra olive oil as needed: Add more olive oil to taste. I prefer to add a few extra tablespoons for richness and flavor. It can vary how much you may need depending on how fatty the batch of sausage was and how much rendered fat it gives off.
  • Make the splurge: Use good quality parmesan such as Murray’s from the big cheese wheels at the deli.

Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli Recipe - Cooking Classy (6)

More Pasta Favorites to Try

  • Baked Ziti
  • Italian Sausage Soup
  • Pasta Carbonara
  • Pasta Primavera
  • Stuffed Shells

16 Quick & Easy 30 Minute Recipes! (plus weekly recipe updates)

Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli Recipe - Cooking Classy (7)

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Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli

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A super simple recipe that uses minimal ingredients yet packs rich, savory, satisfying flavors. It includes hearty pasta, seasoned Italian sausage, tender fresh broccoli, flavorful olive oil, and bold and nutty tasting parmesan.

Servings: 6

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Add 4 quarts of water to a large pot, bring to a boil over medium-high heat then season with salt (I use 2 Tbsp).

  • Add broccoli to boiling water and cook until tender, about 4 - 5 minutes. Using a spider, remove broccoli and transfer to a colander, while leaving water in pot.

  • Run broccoli under cold water to stop cooking. Drain well. Chop broccoli into smaller pieces.

  • Add pasta to water in pot and boil about 1 minutes shy of al dente, according to time listed on package. Reserve 1 1/2 cups pasta water.

  • While pasta is boiling, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil into a 12-inch non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.

  • Crumble sausage in small chunks into skillet and cook, breaking up and tossing occasionally, until cooked through, about 7 minutes. Add garlic during last 2 minutes of cooking the sausage.

  • Pour in 1 cup of the pasta water into the sausage. Let it simmer for about a minute and reduce slightly. Add all dente pasta and cook while tossing, until tender, about 2 minutes.

  • Drizzle in remaining 3 Tbsp olive oil, season with red pepper flakes to taste and toss.

  • Sprinkle in parmesan, and toss to melt into sauce.

  • Toss in broccoli. Season with salt as needed and pepper to taste.

  • Loosen with more pasta water as needed. Drizzle servings with more olive oil if desired, serve with garnished with more parmesan.

Notes

*If you have links on hand vs loose sausage then use 4 Italian sausage links. Cut and remove casings.

Nutrition Facts

Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli

Amount Per Serving

Calories 527Calories from Fat 234

% Daily Value*

Fat 26g40%

Saturated Fat 12g75%

Polyunsaturated Fat 4g

Monounsaturated Fat 18g

Cholesterol 47mg16%

Sodium 700mg30%

Potassium 581mg17%

Carbohydrates 49g16%

Fiber 4g17%

Sugar 3g3%

Protein 23g46%

Vitamin A 537IU11%

Vitamin C 70mg85%

Calcium 153mg15%

Iron 2mg11%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Nutrition values are estimates only. See full disclaimer here.

Course: Main Course

Cuisine: Italian

Keyword: Orecchiette, Orecchiette Recipes

Author: Jaclyn

Categorized:

  • Beef and Pork
  • Main Dish

Tagged:

  • broccoli
  • garlic
  • olive oil
  • parmesan
  • pasta
  • red pepper flakes
  • sausage

You Might Also Like:

  • Creamy Kale and Turkey Sausage Pasta with Sun Dried Tomatoes
  • Pasta Primavera
  • Italian Sausage Soup
  • Baked Rigatoni

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23 Comments

  • Kristen

    Do you think I could substitute the sausage for grilled chicken and if so, would you recommend adding Italian seasoning to the chicken?

    • Jaclyn

      Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli Recipe - Cooking Classy (12)

      You could but the dish would have a different flavor profile of course, add you’d want to add later on since it’s already cooked. I would add seasonings to the chicken, Italian seasoning would be a good option.

  • Kathleen

    This was very good and easy, used brocolini instead of broccoli and it was perfect!! Leftovers are great cold too!

  • Laurie Lasala-Tuttle

    Absolutely delicious! I always use sweet turkey sausage, and have made this several times for my family. Thanks so much for this recipe!! 😊

  • Lana B.

    Once it was ready and on the table, we really enjoyed it. But it was a lot of work and I swear I used every pot and pan we own fixing it! It’s a good, fairly inexpensive recipe and it makes a lot so I have two more dinners for two to look forward to. I’d give this an 8 out of 10, very tasty, but with a caution to clear yourself a good deal of time for preparation and clean-up!

  • Gramma

    This is such a good recipe! I made it twice now. I used chicken sweet Italian sausage plus I added some onion to the sausage! So good, thank you!

  • Gramma

    Can leftovers be frozen?

    • Jaclyn

      Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli Recipe - Cooking Classy (13)

      Yes leftovers should freeze well.

  • Tommy Smalls

    Turned out very well. I didn’t have broccoli so i use brussel sprouts instead. I did a half and half of infused and regular olive oil and the taste is great! I added some shallots with the garlic and sausage. I’ll definitely make it again.

  • Benjamin

    Oh this is pretty good… I followed the recipe exactly but also added in some sauteed cremini mushrooms towards the end of cooking the sausage. It was excellent!
    Next time I would reduce the boil time of the broccoli.

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Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli Recipe - Cooking Classy (2024)
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