Orecchiette with Broccoli

This pasta is a traditional dish from the region of Puglia. So far, I love everything I’ve ever had from Puglia.

When I first heard of broccoli and pasta together, I wasn’t so sure. After someone made it for me, however, I became converted. This is a staple in our house and a great way to get some veggies in my kiddos.

2 heads of broccoli, cut into very small stalks
1 pound ground Italian sausage
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 t. crushed red pepper (a suggested amount–add more or less depending on your spice comfortability)
sea salt
freshly grated black pepper
1 pound orecchiette pasta (named after their “ear” shape)
1/2 C. grated parmesan

In a well-salted pot of boiling water, cook the broccoli until just tender–only about 2-3 minutes. Spoon out broccoli and set aside, reserving the water to cook the pasta. Put the pasta in to cook, and make sure to set a timer to package directions. Meanwhile, in a skillet, cook the ground sausage until no longer pink. Halfway through the cooking process, add the minced garlic and crushed red pepper. Drain any fat off the cooked sausage.

When the pasta is perfectly al dente, set aside 1/3 C. of the cooking water and then drain. Return pasta to cooking pot or to serving bowl. Immediately mix in the sausage, broccoli, and 1/4 C. parmesan cheese. Add the cooking water until the pasta is just moist. Salt and pepper to taste and serve with remaining parmesan for topping.

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