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.

Insalata con Pasta e Pollo

Well, after all that talk of India last week, I thought I’d shift continents and offer you another Italian recipe. We have fully embraced summer here in Orlando, and this is a great summer salad. 


1/2 C. toasted pine nuts
1 pd. (500g) of a short pasta (think farfalle or penne)
4 C. shredded chicken–sometimes I boil some on the stove, sometimes I just use the meat from a rotisserie-cooked chicken
1/2 C. diced red bell pepper
1/2 C. diced yellow bell pepper
1/2 red onion, very thinly sliced
2 T. drained capers (we like the smaller ones for this salad)
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper

1/2 C. olive oil
1/4 C. red wine vinegar
1/4 C. honey
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper

Whisk dressing together and set aside.  Cook pasta in heavily salted water.  When al dente, drain and place in large bowl.  Immediately coat with the dressing mixture.

Add the remaining ingredients and toss well.  Can be served slightly warm, room temperature or chilled.

Buon Appetito!

Ravioli Salad with Tomatos and Basil

A few of you might have checked out a recipe website I had when we lived in Italy. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, do I have a treat for you! Over the course of time, I hope to post some of my very favorite recipes here at A Crazy Beautiful Life.

Today is the perfect Italian summer salad. As long as you have some good tomatoes, you can not mess this up. Another perk is that it is quick. It is a glorious combination of flavors and textures.

Ravioli Salad with Tomatoes and Basil

1 pound (500g) fresh ravioli (or tortellini)
1 pkg. cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1 small jar artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
1/2 C. of your favorite olive (which you’ll notice I omitted)
3 T. capers, rinsed
1/4 C. olive oil
lots of basil, torn (a couple of handfuls)
red wine vinegar
salt and pepper

Put tomatoes and artichokes into a large bowl. Add the basil, olives, capers and oil. Toss well. Cook the pasta according to package directions and drain. Immediately add to the bowl and toss gently with a spatula. Add salt, pepper and vinegar to taste.