Saturday, September 1, 2012

"good" pasta: orecchiette with broccoli and hot Italian sausage

I love my pantry.  Some days I look at it and ponder just when I am going to use everything just hanging out in there waiting to make the big show.  Some days I look in there and am super grateful there's always something to be made from what's on hand in there and in my refrigerators and freezers.
No one is going to go hungry at my house.  Maybe the cat, because he's put on a little weight from all the guilt treats I give him for being gone so much.  He's probably hungry, but he's super fluffy so I am not worried.

Greg was home all week and that's an opportunity to cook every night for an appreciative audience, not that I am not my own appreciative audience but you know what I mean.  He had his choices orzo or orecchiette and wisely chose the orecchiette.  Dinner was all mine from there.  I'd made a dish from Fine Cooking before with broccoli and hot Italian sausage and he must have been traveling because he'd never had it before.  I have a super abundant herb garden, but by-passed it for the quick pasta dish that tastes so much more complicated than it really is.  This is one of those meals that the Barefoot Contessa would say to use "good" olive oil and "good" cheese.  I would tell you to use "good" pasta if you can find it.  Whenever I have the good fortune to shop at Zingermans in Ann Arbor or other specialty food stores when we travel, I always look for pasta from Rustichella d'Abruzzo from Italy (obviously) in paper and cellophane bags.  It is what they call "toothsome".  If it's boiled until al-dente in generously salted water it is just perfection.  Orecchiette, by the way is "pigs ears" cup-shaped pasta.  I just love to say it's name.  I could eat it with just "good" olive oil.  If you make this dish, you might learn a new trick using pasta water as part of the sauce.  The starches in the water from the cooked pasta help to thicken the sauce.  So be mindful and don't drain the pasta until you ladle out a cup or two of pasta water into a measuring cup.  Mindful can be tough after a long day.  A little focus and you've got this dish in about 20-30 minutes.  I use the pre-packaged Jenny-O hot Italian turkey Sausage, just squeezing the sausage out of the casings into the hot pan.  I also like the bulk hot Italian turkey or chicken sausage from Whole Foods.


Orecchiette with Broccoli and Hot Italian Sausage

1 nice head of broccoli or broccoli crowns (about 1 pound)
kosher salt
olive oil
1/2 C bulk hot Italian sausage
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound dried orecchiette pasta
1/2 C freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino

Wash you broccoli and cut off the tough ends of the stems and cut the florets in half if large (keep things bigger than bite size, you have to scoop them out of the water).  Bring a large pot of salted water (1-2T of kosher salt) to a boil over high heat.  Add the broccoli and cook for about 5 minutes until just tender.  With a slotted spoon, scoop out broccoli and drain.

Keep the water boiling and cook the pasta as directed.

Meanwhile, in a large non-stick saute pan, cook the sausage over medium heat in a little olive oil until cooked through and no longer pink (8-10  minutes).  Add the minced garlic and stir to cook for about a minute until fragrant.  Add the cooked broccoli and reduce heat if waiting for the pasta to finish cooking.  When pasta is done, reserve one to two cups of pasta water in a liquid measuring cup and then drain the pasta.  Toss the drained pasta into the sausage and broccoli mixture with the red pepper flakes.  Raise the heat to medium high and pour in a cup of the pasta water, stirring to scrape up bits from the bottom of the pan.  Add pasta water until desired thickness is achieved.  Taste for salt and pepper.  Grate cheese over pasta dish and serve hot.

*sorry there are no process pictures-I was sure I'd posted this already

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