Orecchiette with Greens, Nuts and (Real or Fake) Sausage Recipe

Photo by Joel Goldberg / Food and Prop Styling by Judy Haubert

This comforting, easy pasta dinner, inspired by a recipe in Colu Henry’s Back Pocket Pasta (Clarkson Potter, 2017), is something I’ll make any day of the week. It’s one I know my two young girls will scarf down without prodding, and it requires as many or as few ingredients as happen to be at hand. As with so many pasta dishes, the beauty lies in the flexibility. So, don’t stress: Trust in your taste buds and your stomach will be happy.

Ingredients
1 16-ounce box dry orecchiette
Olive oil
1 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed, or plant-based sausage
½ cup frozen peas, if desired
½ cup mushrooms, sliced, if desired
3 cloves garlic, sliced
2 cups spinach, escarole or bok choy
Salt and pepper, to taste
¹⁄₃ cup raisins, soaked in warm water 10 minutes, then drained
¹⁄₃ cup pine nuts, toasted
½ cup grated Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano cheese, plus more to finish

Directions

Bring large pot of well-salted water to boil, and cook pasta according to package instructions until al dente. Reserve water and drain pasta.

Meanwhile, warm large splash of oil in skillet over medium heat. Add sausage and cook, breaking up with spoon, until browned, about 10 minutes. Add peas and mushrooms, if using, and garlic. Cook until garlic and mushrooms are soft and peas warmed through, about 5 minutes.

Add greens and cook until wilted, 1–2 minutes, adding reserved pasta water a tablespoon at time until sauce forms. Remove from heat, and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Stir in cooked pasta, raisins, pine nuts and cheese. If dry, add more pasta water.

Pour into large bowl, and sprinkle with grated cheese. Serves 4.

Wine Pairing

Ben Haines 2019 Chardonnay (Yarra Valley). This textural, mineral-driven white wine has enough oomph to handle this dish’s sausage spice, without overwhelming delicate flavors from raisins and pine nuts. Its bright acidity will pair nicely with the cheese.

Published on November 6, 2021