As you can gather from reading my posts over the past years, I am a huge fan of easy meals that don’t require a lot of ingredients, cook quickly, make great leftovers, do double duty as a dish to bring to a party or serve as a family dinner. This dish is another one of those ideal dishes: it has a few simple ingredients and cooks in 20 minutes!
This dish gets its name from the orecchiette pasta- small shell-shaped pasta that looks like a tiny ear, or the ear of an angel. It provides a good serving of vegetables from the broccoli which, when mixed with the seasoning and added to the hot pasta, becomes a delicious broccoli pesto. This dish is a great time saver because the pasta and the broccoli cook together.
By using chicken sausage you skip a lot of the fat or spices from traditional pork sausage. You can also swap out the orecchiette for any kind or shape of pasta, including gluten free or whole wheat kinds. Using fresh grated cheese adds a velvety finish to the dish.
It’s perfect as leftovers and stores well in the freezer. You can even change up the vegetables, swap out the chicken sausage for diced, grilled or cut up rotisserie chicken, or add in fresh herbs. The possibilities with this dish, then, are endless!
Angels’ Ears Pasta
- 12-14 ounces chicken sausage, casing removed, crumbled
- 1 cup uncooked orecchiette pasta
- 6 cups fresh broccoli florets, no stems or 16 ounces frozen broccoli florets
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- ¼ cup fresh grated Romano cheese or fresh grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Bring 5 quarts of water to a boil.
- In a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat, brown sausage until cooked, about 5 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat and drain cooked sausage crumbles on paper towels.
- Add pasta to the boiling water and return to a boil. Add broccoli and cook according to the pasta directions until al dente.
- When pasta is done, reserve 1 cup of the pasta liquid and set aside. Drain the pasta and the broccoli.
- Return the pasta pot to the stove and heat over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the extra virgin olive oil and heat.
- Add the onion and cook 4 to 5 minutes until softened.
- Add the garlic and cook 1 minute.
- Reduce heat and add the pasta and broccoli back to the pot. Add in the sausage.
- Mix well. Add in the remaining tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, grated cheese, salt and pepper.
- Add in ½ cup of the reserved pasta water and mix well. Add more of the reserved pasta water until the sauce is of the desired consistency.
- Serve in bowls and top with additional grated cheese, chopped parsley or basil, or a small squeeze of lemon juice.
Featured photo by Max Delsid