Jul 6, 2010

Orecchiette with Italian Sausage, Broccoli and crunchy breadcrumbs

I sometimes have bad luck with grocery shopping.  I meal plan each week – and I shop according to that plan.  So when I can’t find a key ingredient in a dish – I have to improvise on the spot or try to come up with something else to make.  So I knew that my grocery store carried broccoli rabe – since I’ve seen it there before.  But this day it didn’t – so I had to substitute broccoli.  It may not seem like a huge difference – but they are two different vegetables with different tastes!   So next time I find it I will have to try it in this recipe – since we both really liked it.  I was actually surprised at how flavorful and delicious this meal turned out to be! 


  • 3-4 slices stale white bread, roughly chopped
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil


  • 1 pound broccoli (or broccoli rabe), trimmed and cut into pieces
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil,
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 lb sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 pound orecchiette pasta
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • parmesan cheese, for serving


1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine bread with salt, pepper, and dried herbs. Pulse briefly until bread breaks down into roughly 1/4-inch chunks.

2. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet. Add breadcrumbs and toss until well coated. Saute until golden brown and crispy, being careful not to let the smaller pieces burn. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil.  Cook the broccoli (2-3 minutes) or broccoli rabe (5-7 minutes) in the boiling water.  Remove with a slotted spoon when done and cook the pasta according to the package directions.

4. Meanwhile, heat the 1 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat.

5. Add the garlic and cook until it begins to sizzle, about a minute; add the sausage and red pepper flakes and continue cooking until nicely browned, 5 to 7 minutes.

6. Transfer the broccoli to the skillet. Cook over medium-high heat, adding some of the pasta water as needed to help soften the broccoli.

7. Remove the pasta when it is barely al dente, drain, reserving about a cup of the cooking water.

8. Add the pasta to the skillet with the broccoli and sausage and a couple of tablespoons of the reserved cooking water as needed; toss with until well combined. Season with salt and pepper. Top with breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese, as desired.

Source: slightly adapted from Love and Olive Oil

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