Last year, one of my Christmas gifts was Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa Foolproof cookbook. We definitely have a few favorites from this book, including an awesome tomato soup that I really need to make soon as well as the “straw and hay with gorgonzola” recipe I shared a while ago. Another one we like to make from this cookbook is her orecchiette with sausage recipe. Now that we’ve made this dish a few times, there are a few changes we’ve made to the recipe, mainly in our use of broccolini. The recipe calls for broccoli rabe, but when I made this for the first time I couldn’t find broccoli rabe anywhere. I tried the HEB in Lincoln Heights as well as Central Market to no avail. I could have tried Whole Foods next, but come on. That’s a lot of effort for a vegetable. Since Chip likes broccolini, we decided to just go ahead and substitute with that. Below is our take on the recipe as well as the original steps in parenthesis so you can decide which way you’d like to make this meal. Enjoy!
- 1/2 pound mild Italian chicken sausage (or 1/2 pound sweet Italian pork sausage)
- 1/2 pound sweet basil and roasted garlic chicken sausage (or 1/2 pound hot Italian pork sausage; we’ve also done different kinds of chicken sausage)
- 1/3 cup good olive oil
- 6 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 2 14.5 ounce cans crushed tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
- 1/2 cup dry red wine – and you get to enjoy the rest of the bottle! ;)
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 pound dried orecchiette pasta
- 3-4 bunches of broccolini (or 2 bunches broccoli rabe, 2 to 2.5 pounds total)
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prick the sausages with a fork and place them on a sheet pan. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, turning once, until just cooked through. Slice 1/2 inch thick and set aside.
- Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy pot or Dutch oven. Add the sausage slices and saute for 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the pieces are browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and their juices, the red wine, tomato paste, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and let the mixture simmer over low heat while you prepare the pasta and broccolini.
- Bring a very large pot half filled with water to a boil and add 1 tablespoon of salt. Add the pasta and cook for 9 minutes exactly. While the pasta is cooking, trim the broccolini to just the florets (or the broccoli rabe to just below the leaves, then cut the leafy part crosswise in 2-inch pieces) and discard the stems. When the pasta has cooked for 9 minutes, add the brocclini to the pasta and continue cooking for 2 to 3 minutes, until the pasta is al dente and the broccolini is crisp-tender.
- Drain in a large colander, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid, and add the pasta and broccolini to the pot with the tomato and sausage mixture. Stir in the Parmesan cheese and 1 teaspoon of salt. If the pasta seems dry, add some of the reserved cooking liquid (just fyi, we’ve never had to do this). Taste for seasonings, and serve hot with extra Parmesan on the side.