Orecchiette with Roasted Broccolini and Spicy Sausage Recipe

Orecchiette with Roasted Broccolini and Spicy Sausage

Quick and easy recipe and on top of it flavorful, a traditional dish from Apulia, the “heel” of the Italian peninsula. Orecchiette are popular in Southern Italy.  Their name comes from their shape, which resembles a small ear.

Yield: 4 servings

Time: 30 minutes


  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) plus 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice, more to taste
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 oz (340 g) broccolini, trimmed
  • 12 oz (340 g) orecchiette pasta
  • 4-5 Italian spicy sausages, sliced
  • 1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced, about 1 cup (140 g)
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 cup (200 g) grape tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup (170 g) tomato passata
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) red wine
  • 1 cup (110 g) goat cheese or feta cheese, roughly crumbled
  • extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling
  • thinly sliced fresh basil


Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F (200°C).

Bring water to a boil and add the broccolini. Parboil it for a minute or two. Drain and immediately place it in iced water to arrest cooking and to keep broccolini’s nice green color. Drain again and place it on paper towels to dry.

In a bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons of olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Set aside.

Place broccolini on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Drizzle with 3 tablespoons of olive oil, sea salt, and pepper. Toss and roast broccolini for about 10 minutes or until tender-crisp. Remove from the oven. Let it cool a bit and chop stalks into 2-inch (5 cm) pieces. Half thick stems lengthwise. Leave broccoli florets a bit larger.  Bring water to a boil. Add salt and 1 tablespoon of olive oil.

Cook orecchiette according to the package instructions or until “al dente”. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water. Drain orecchiette and return to the saucepan. Add lemon/olive oil mixture and toss.

While the orecchiette is cooking, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the sausage and sauté until brown on the edges, about 3-5 minutes. Add onion, garlic and cook for 2 minutes longer. Add passata and wine. Bring to a quick simmer stirring all the time until it starts thickening a bit. Add the cherry tomatoes and continue cooking until they start bursting. Add the orecchiette and broccolini to the skillet. If necessary, thin the sauce with a bit of the pasta water. Adjust the taste.

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