Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli


Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli is a comforting and flavorful pasta dish that combines savory Italian sausage with tender broccoli florets and al dente orecchiette pasta. This recipe is loved for its simplicity and robust flavors, making it a perfect choice for a satisfying meal.

Origins And History Of Orecchiette

Orecchiette pasta, which translates to “little ears” in Italian, hails from the southern Italian region of Puglia, particularly in and around the city of Bari. This pasta shape is distinctive for its concave shape, resembling a small ear, which is crafted by pressing small rounds of pasta dough with the thumb. The indentation allows the pasta to hold sauces and ingredients effectively.

Historically, orecchiette has been a staple in Pugliese cuisine for centuries, favored for its versatility and ability to pair well with various sauces and ingredients. Its simple preparation—made traditionally from durum wheat semolina and water—makes it accessible to home cooks and professional chefs alike.

In traditional Pugliese homes, making orecchiette by hand is a cultural practice passed down through generations, often involving communal gatherings where women gather to shape the pasta and chat, making it not just a culinary tradition but a social one as well.

Today, orecchiette is celebrated across Italy and internationally, featured in countless recipes that highlight its unique shape and ability to hold robust flavors. Its popularity continues to grow, making it a beloved symbol of Italian pasta craftsmanship and regional culinary heritage.


Serving Suggestions For Orecchiette

Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli is a hearty and satisfying dish that can be served in various ways to enhance its flavors and appeal:

  1. Garnishes: Sprinkle freshly grated Parmesan cheese over the pasta to add a nutty richness. Freshly ground black pepper or red pepper flakes can provide a hint of spice, enhancing the dish’s depth.
  2. Side Salad: Serve alongside a crisp, refreshing green salad dressed with a light vinaigrette. The salad provides a contrast in texture and freshness that complements the richness of the pasta.
  3. Bread: A crusty Italian bread or garlic bread is perfect for soaking up any remaining sauce on the plate. It adds a delightful crunch and additional substance to the meal.
  4. Wine Pairing: Pair with a medium to full-bodied red wine such as Chianti or Sangiovese. The wine’s acidity and fruitiness complement the sausage and broccoli flavors while balancing the dish’s richness.
  5. Presentation: Serve orecchiette with sausage and broccoli in shallow pasta bowls or deep plates to showcase the pasta’s shape and allow for easy mixing with the sauce and ingredients.

These serving suggestions elevate the dining experience, making Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli not only a delicious meal but also a delightful culinary adventure that captures the essence of Italian comfort food.

Variations For Orecchiette

Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli can be adapted and customized in various ways to suit different tastes and dietary preferences. Here are some popular variations:

  1. Spicy Sausage: Use spicy Italian sausage instead of mild sausage to add a kick of heat to the dish. Adjust the amount of red pepper flakes or add chopped fresh chili peppers for extra spice.
  2. Vegetarian Option: Replace the sausage with meatless sausage or crumbled tofu seasoned with Italian herbs and spices. Add extra vegetables such as bell peppers, zucchini, or mushrooms for added texture and flavor.
  3. Creamy Sauce: Create a creamy sauce by stirring in a splash of heavy cream or half-and-half after cooking the sausage and broccoli. Toss the pasta in the creamy sauce until well coated before serving.
  4. Tomato-Based Sauce: Add diced tomatoes or tomato sauce to create a tomato-based sauce. Simmer briefly with the sausage and broccoli to marry the flavors before tossing with the cooked pasta.
  5. Pesto Variation: Replace the sausage with grilled chicken and toss the orecchiette with homemade or store-bought pesto sauce. Add cherry tomatoes and pine nuts for additional flavor and texture.
  6. Gluten-Free Option: Use gluten-free orecchiette pasta made from alternative flours such as rice flour or chickpea flour. Ensure all ingredients, including sausage and sauces, are gluten-free.
  7. Cheesy Version: Sprinkle shredded mozzarella or Parmesan cheese over the pasta and broil briefly in the oven until the cheese melts and turns golden brown. Garnish with fresh basil leaves before serving.

These variations allow you to experiment with different flavors and ingredients while maintaining the heartiness and comfort of the original Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli recipe. Customize each variation according to personal preferences for a unique and satisfying meal experience.


Storage and Shelf Life For Orecchiette

To maintain freshness and flavor, here are guidelines for storing Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli:

  1. Refrigeration: Store any leftover pasta in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. Ensure the pasta is cooled completely before refrigerating to prevent condensation and sogginess.
  2. Freezing: While pasta can be frozen, it’s best to freeze the components separately. Cooked orecchiette can be frozen in an airtight container for up to 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
  3. Reheating: Reheat refrigerated pasta gently in a microwave or on the stovetop with a splash of water or broth to prevent drying out. Add extra cheese or a drizzle of olive oil to refresh flavors.
  4. Sauce Separation: Pasta tends to absorb sauces over time. Refresh with a splash of broth or cream while reheating to restore consistency and flavor.
  5. Broccoli Tips: Broccoli can soften when reheated. For a crispier texture, add fresh broccoli florets or blanch them briefly before adding to the reheated pasta.

By following these storage and reheating tips, you can enjoy Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli freshly reheated and bursting with flavors, ensuring a delightful dining experience every time.

Health Benefits Of Orecchiette

Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli offers several nutritional benefits when prepared with wholesome ingredients and balanced portions:

  1. Protein: Italian sausage provides a good source of protein, essential for muscle repair and overall body function.
  2. Vitamins and Minerals: Broccoli is rich in vitamins C, K, and A, along with folate and fiber, promoting immune function, bone health, and digestive regularity.
  3. Complex Carbohydrates: Orecchiette pasta, made from durum wheat semolina, offers complex carbohydrates for sustained energy levels.
  4. Antioxidants: Garlic and onions used in the recipe contain antioxidants that may help reduce inflammation and protect against chronic diseases.
  5. Calcium and Phosphorus: Parmesan cheese, if used, contributes to bone health with calcium and phosphorus content.

Nutritional Considerations:

  • Portion Control: Maintain a balanced diet by moderating portion sizes and incorporating a variety of foods for overall nutrient intake.
  • Healthier Substitutions: Opt for lean turkey or chicken sausage, whole wheat orecchiette pasta, and reduced-fat cheeses to reduce saturated fat content.
  • Vegetarian Option: Replace sausage with plant-based proteins like tofu or beans for a meatless alternative rich in fiber and essential nutrients.
  • Customization: Modify the recipe with additional vegetables or whole grains for added nutritional value and dietary diversity.

By mindful preparation and ingredient choices, Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli can be part of a well-rounded diet that supports overall health and wellness.


FAQ Related To Orecchiette

Here are some commonly asked questions related to Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli:

  1. Can I use a different type of pasta for this recipe?
    • Yes, you can substitute orecchiette with other short pasta shapes like penne, fusilli, or farfalle. The cooking time may vary slightly depending on the pasta shape used.
  2. Can I make this dish ahead of time?
    • Yes, you can prepare Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. Reheat gently on the stove or in the microwave with a splash of water or broth to refresh the flavors.
  3. How can I make this recipe vegetarian?
    • To make a vegetarian version, omit the sausage or replace it with meatless sausage or crumbled tofu. Increase the amount of broccoli or add other vegetables like bell peppers or mushrooms for extra flavor and texture.
  4. Can I freeze this dish?
    • While pasta can be frozen, it’s best to freeze the components separately. Cooked orecchiette can be frozen in an airtight container for up to 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
  5. What wine pairs well with Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli?
    • A medium to full-bodied red wine such as Chianti or Sangiovese complements the savory flavors of sausage and broccoli. The wine’s acidity and fruitiness balance the richness of the dish.

Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli Recipe

Rachid Yousfi
Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli is a classic Italian pasta dish originating from the region of Puglia. The dish features orecchiette pasta, shaped like small ears, paired with savory Italian sausage, tender broccoli florets, and a flavorful garlic-infused sauce.
This hearty and comforting dish is loved for its simplicity, robust flavors, and wholesome ingredients, making it a perfect choice for a satisfying meal that captures the essence of Italian cuisine.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4 people
Calories 660 kcal


  • Large Pot For boiling water to cook the pasta.
  • Large Skillet or Pan For cooking the sausage, garlic, and broccoli, and for combining all the ingredients.
  • Wooden Spoon or Spatula For stirring and sautéing ingredients in the skillet.
  • Colander To drain the cooked pasta.
  • Chef's Knife and Cutting Board: For chopping garlic, cutting broccoli into florets, and any other prep work.
  • Measuring Cups and Spoons For accurate measurement of ingredients like olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  • Grater (optional): For grating Parmesan cheese if using a block of cheese.
  • Tongs or Pasta Fork: For tossing the cooked pasta with the sauce and ingredients.
  • Serving Plates or Bowls: For serving the finished dish.


  • 12 Ounces Orecchiette Pasta: Orecchiette, meaning "little ears" in Italian, is a small, round pasta shape that holds sauces well due to its concave shape.
  • 1 Pound Italian Sausage: Choose mild or spicy Italian sausage based on your preference for heat. Pork sausage is traditional but you can use chicken or turkey sausage for a lighter option.
  • 1 Head Broccoli: Fresh broccoli adds texture and nutrition to the dish. Adjust quantity based on personal preference for broccoli.
  • 3 Gloves Garlic: Garlic adds aromatic flavor to the dish. Adjust amount based on preference for garlic intensity.
  • 3 Tablespoon Olive Oil: Olive oil is used for sautéing garlic, broccoli, and as needed for flavor and to prevent sticking.
  • 1 teaspoon Salt and Pepper: Season to taste with salt and pepper throughout cooking process. Adjust amount based on personal preference.
  • Parmesan Cheese (optional): Parmesan cheese adds a salty, savory flavor. Use freshly grated Parmesan for best results.


  • Cook the Pasta:
    Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.
    Add the orecchiette pasta and cook according to package instructions until al dente, typically about 10-12 minutes.
    Reserve about 1 cup of pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta in a colander.
  • Prepare the Sausage and Broccoli:
    While the pasta is cooking, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet or pan over medium-high heat.
    Add the Italian sausage, breaking it apart with a wooden spoon or spatula, and cook until browned and cooked through, about 5-7 minutes.
    Remove the cooked sausage from the skillet and set aside.
  • Cook the Broccoli:
    In the same skillet, add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil if needed.
    Add the minced garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds until fragrant.
    Add the broccoli florets to the skillet, season with salt and pepper, and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the broccoli is tender-crisp.
  • Combine Everything:
    Return the cooked sausage to the skillet with the broccoli and garlic.
    Add the drained orecchiette pasta to the skillet.
    Toss everything together gently, adding reserved pasta cooking water as needed to loosen the sauce and coat the pasta evenly.
  • Serve:
    Divide the orecchiette with sausage and broccoli among serving plates or bowls.
    If desired, sprinkle grated Parmesan cheese over each serving.
    Serve hot and enjoy!


  • Cook Pasta Al Dente: Ensure the pasta is cooked al dente (firm to the bite) to prevent it from becoming mushy when combined with the sauce and other ingredients.
  • Balance Flavors: Taste and adjust seasoning throughout the cooking process. Add salt and pepper gradually to achieve a balanced flavor profile.
  • Cook Sausage Thoroughly: Ensure the Italian sausage is cooked through and nicely browned for optimal flavor. Crumble it into small pieces for even distribution throughout the dish.
  • Sauté Garlic Carefully: Be mindful not to burn the minced garlic when sautéing. It should be fragrant and golden, not browned or bitter.
  • Use Reserved Pasta Water: Add reserved pasta cooking water gradually to the skillet when tossing the pasta with the sausage and broccoli. This starchy water helps bind the sauce and coat the pasta evenly.
  • Freshly Grated Parmesan: If using Parmesan cheese, opt for freshly grated Parmesan for better flavor and texture. Add it just before serving to enhance the dish.
  • Adjust Consistency: If the dish seems dry after combining all ingredients, add a bit more olive oil or reserved pasta water to achieve the desired consistency.
  • Garnish Thoughtfully: Garnish with fresh herbs like parsley or basil, or a sprinkle of red pepper flakes for added color and flavor.
  • Serve Immediately: Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli is best served immediately while hot. Enjoy it as soon as it’s prepared to experience the flavors at their peak.
Keyword Orecchiette

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