This is one of my favorite dishes, and it's so easy to make! It suits a lot of different tastes.
I'm currently growing some sage to make it even easier to enjoy in our weekly rotation.
To start, boil a large pot of water for cooking the pasta.
While that heats up, take the skin off of your sausage if you need to. I can never find sausage outside of the casings, so I usually slice them to get the skin off, strip them and crumble it into bite sized pieces. Shown here:
Then, add about 2tbs of butter and 1tbs of olive oil to a medium pan with sides.
Turn the heat to medium-high and cook until the butter and oil mixture starts to turn a foamy golden brown.
Add crumbled sausage.
While the sausage is cooking, julienne the sage.
The first time I heard that word I was checking everywhere to find out what sort of fancy cutting method "julienning" is.
To break it down for you: it means cut into long thin strips. Easy. This releases the flavors better, or so I'm told.
Once the sausage is nice and browned, add the sage.
Stir until wilted, then remove from heat.
Add a generous amount of salt to the boiling water. I know what you're thinking, "I usually skip that step." I used to too...but DON'T!! It's the only chance you have while cooking to actually flavor the pasta itself. (It's also important for later).
Once your salted water is set, add the pasta. Cook until al dente, or however you prefer. Check the package for cooking instructions, but this shouldn't take more than 10-12 minutes.
My husband prefers softer pasta, to the disappointment of my Italian heritage, but I usually cook it a little longer.
Here's the important bit: use a measuring cup or ladle and scoop out about 1/2cup of the salty starchy water before draining the pasta.
Put the sage and sausage back on medium heat and add in the orecchiette.
Stir together, scraping up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan.
Add the saved salty-starchy-water 1 tablespoon at a time,
stirring until a sauce begins to form.
I usually use about 1/4 of a cup of the water, but use as much or little as you need.
Add 1/2 cup of heavy cream and stir to combine into a thick sauce that clings to the pasta.
The little orecchiette act like tiny bowls to scoop up the flavorful creamy sauce. Delicious.
Feel free to season with salt and pepper to taste; I usually don't need to add any.
Garnish with extra sage or grated pecorino or parmesan cheese.
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 1 pound Italian spicy sausage
- Leaves from 2-3 sprigs fresh sage
- 12 ounces/one box orecchiette pasta
- Kosher salt for the pasta water
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup grated pecorino or parmesan cheese (optional garnish)
- Salt and pepper, to taste
Bring pot of water to boil for pasta.
While waiting, heat olive oil and butter in a saté pan with sides. When butter and oil merge and are foamy and brown, crumble in sausage (with casings removed). Cook until browned, add sage and stir until wilted. Remove from heat.
Generously salt pasta water, add orecchiette and cook until done, 8-12 minutes depending on your preference. Save 1/2cup of pasta water and drain the rest.
Add orecchiette to sausage and sage, stir to combine. Slowly (1tbs at a time) add reserved water, stirring in the brown bits from the bottom of the pan to form a thick sauce. When consistency is to your liking, add heavy cream and stir. Sauce should cling to the noodles, but not be liquid.
Garnish with cheese or extra sage, salt and pepper if you choose.
If you try this dish, let me know what you think in the comments!
Linked to the parties here