Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli

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This orecchiette pasta dish is packed with flavor and quick to make — and the whole family gobbles it up, broccoli and all.

Sometimes it seems impossible to make a meal the whole family loves: what one child happily eats, the other one is “not in the mood for.” But every once in a while, I come upon a recipe that everyone clamors for, like this orecchiette pasta dish adapted from Lidia’s Italian Table by Lidia Bastianich. Not only is it quick and easy to make — 25 minutes tops — but the whole family devours it, broccoli and all.

What you’ll need to make orecchiette with Sausage & Broccoli

ingredients for orecchiette with sausage and broccoliOrecchiette is named for its shape, which resembles a small ear (the Italian word orecchiette means small ear). If you can’t find it, it’s fine to substitute another pasta, like farfalle or fusilli.  

Buy bulk sausage, or sausage meat without the casing, if possible (it’s often easy to find around holiday season as it’s used in stuffing recipes). Otherwise, just squeeze the sausage meat out of the casing.

Pecorino Romano is a hard, salty, and pungent Italian cheese made from sheep’s milk. It’s readily available in grated form in the cheese section of most large supermarkets but if you can’t find it, it’s fine to substitute Parmigiano Reggiano.

How to make orecchiette with Sausage & Broccoli

Begin by cooking the pasta. 

boiling the orecchiette

Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large sauté pan and add the sausage.

cooking the sausage

Cook, breaking the meat up with a spoon, until the sausage starts to brown, 5-6 minutes.

adding the garlic

Add the garlic and cook a minute more.

cooking the sausage and garlic

Add the remaining 4 tablespoons of olive oil, broccoli, chicken broth, salt and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring frequently, until the broccoli is tender-crisp, 3-4 minutes.

adding the broccoli

Stir in the butter until melted and simmer for a few minutes to reduce and concentrate the sauce.

stirring in the butter

Add the sausage and broccoli mixture to the drained pasta and toss well, along with half of the grated cheese.

tossing the orecchiette with the sausage and broccoli mixture and cheese

Transfer the pasta to a serving bowl or individual bowls and top with the remaining grated cheese.

Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli

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Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli

This orecchiette pasta dish is packed with flavor and quick to make — and the whole family gobbles it up, broccoli and all.

Servings: 4-6
Total Time: 30 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 pound orecchiette
  • 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 pound sweet or spicy Italian sausage, removed from casings
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 pound broccoli florets
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the orecchiette and cook according to package instructions.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium high heat. Crumble the sausage into the skillet and cook, breaking apart with a spoon, until lightly browned, 5-6 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and add the garlic; cook for 1 minute more.
  3. Add the remaining 4 tablespoons of olive oil, chicken broth, broccoli, salt and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring frequently and scraping the bottom of the pan to release the flavorful brown bits, until the broccoli is tender-crisp, 3-4 minutes. Stir in the butter until melted and simmer for a few minutes to reduce and concentrate the sauce.
  4. Drain the pasta well and place back in the pasta pot. Add the sausage and broccoli mixture, along with half of the cheese, and toss to blend. Taste and adjust seasoning. Transfer to a serving platter or individual bowls and pass the remaining grated cheese at the table.
  5. Freezer-Friendly Instructions: This dish can be frozen for up to 3 months and reheated on the stovetop. If the dish has dried out a bit in the freezer, add a little water or broth while reheating. Just take care only to reheat it and not continue to cook it.

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (6 servings)
  • Calories: 624
  • Fat: 28 g
  • Saturated fat: 10 g
  • Carbohydrates: 64 g
  • Sugar: 3 g
  • Fiber: 2 g
  • Protein: 29 g
  • Sodium: 692 mg
  • Cholesterol: 51 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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Reviews & Comments

  • We LOVED this! Not too salty. I added extra broth (full can) and hence pepper, butter and garlic because the fam loves the extra sauce for bread.

    Will make this again and I adore the freezer directions.

    • — Cheryl from Whitehouse on April 29, 2021
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  • What a fantastically easy weeknight recipe. This is definitely going into the regular rotation. My family looked at me skeptically as I served the meal to them but they positively gushed. The only thing I did differently from the recipe is I cooked the orecchiette the night before serving. Someone had put the sausage in the freezer so it wasn’t available when I needed it. Doh! Oh well, I made the white chicken chili from Once Upon a Chef instead–also very delicious.

    • — Catherine Nichols on April 23, 2021
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  • Did NOT disappoint!

    • — LC on April 21, 2021
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  • I have made this dozens of times because it is my kids’ favorite recipe (my 7-year-old daughter will tell you her favorite food is orecchiette because of it) AND it is so quick and easy to make AND I love it too! I use frozen broccoli florets and it turns out great. Can’t rave about this one enough.

    • — Alison on April 12, 2021
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  • Not sure why I waited so long to try this dish. So delicious and EASY!!!! Thanks again for another winner of a recipe!!! This one will be a “make again” for sure. From, one of your biggest fans. 😊

    • — Lori on April 8, 2021
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  • Easy and delicious. Thank you for sharing this awesome recipe.

    • — Debbie Kane on April 8, 2021
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  • Fabulous easy meal. I’ve made it several times. I use a high quality hot Italian turkey sausage and it tasted every bit as good as traditional sausage. Its very rich so I don’t add the butter at then end. We finish all the broccoli and usually have a portion of pasta & sausage leftover. I heat it up for lunch with a little spinach and its delicious leftover.

    • — Kathie on April 8, 2021
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  • I love this recipe….my whole family loves it. It’s the second time I doing this recipe, this time I didn’t have chicken broth on hand so I used the pasta water, and it was just as delicious.

    • — SUZANNE on March 9, 2021
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  • I don’t know why it has taken me so long to write a review on this recipe. This recipe is absolutely delicious and is definitely one of our family favorites. And a bonus that it’s a quick cook as well so that we can make it often!

    • — Rachel on March 8, 2021
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  • This surprises me with how good it is every time I make it. The sauce always turns out perfectly creamy and flavourful, and the broccoli is the perfect medium to sop it up. Red pepper flakes are just what this dish needs. A perfect balance of brightness, sweetness, saltiness, spiciness and umami; plus, this food has an undeniable comfort-food quality despite being having a decent amount of veggies in it. A very very good dish, one of my favourites.

    • — Corrine on February 28, 2021
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  • I love this recipe and make it often. I love using the orecchiette but have had an issue with the pasta sticking together in stacks and not cooking all the way through. What can I do to prevent pasta doing this?

    • — Billie on February 23, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Billie, I find that happens sometimes too. You could use a different shape pasta if you find that it’s really problematic for you or when you add the pasta to the pot, try pouring them into your hands and letting them run through into the water, instead of dumping them in all at once. Also, stir them often. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on February 23, 2021
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  • This was sooo good and EASY…the easiest IMO, of all your main course meals!!! I used Italian Turkey sausage cuz my hubby is trying to get some weight off. IF left up to ME I wanted the real thing, hot Italian sausage!! BUT this is really tasty with the Turkey sausage!! This will be a regular dish from now on! Everything I make from you Jenn is fantastic!
    Thanks so much for sharing your gift!

    • — Gigi B on February 21, 2021
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  • Made this many times. A huge favorite with the family. Like some of your other readers I started to briefly microwave the broccoli before adding to the pan. In my experience it took a lot longer than 3-4 minutes to get to the crisp tender stage if I didn’t. Maybe my idea of crisp tender is just different than others. Either way a delicious dish! Thank you.

    • — Roger on February 8, 2021
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    • Made it again last night.

      • — Roger on February 10, 2021
      • Reply
  • So easy and our 10 month old loves it!

    • — Yvonne on February 7, 2021
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  • Delicious!! I used microwave steamed broccoli and just blotted with paper towel to get out excess moisture before adding to skillet. I used a box of 12 ounce pasta but 1.2 lb sausage and poured in extra chicken broth but reduced. This was so, so good. Adding to my meal rotation!

    • — Elizabeth on February 5, 2021
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  • So easy and yummy! We all loved it.
    As I didn’t have chicken broth at hand, I used vegetable broth instead, a perfect alternative.
    For my husband, I added some cream at the end of the cooking process, but it’s really no must.
    I, personally, prefer the lighter version without.

    • — Bettina on February 3, 2021
    • Reply
  • So easy and delicious! Healthier than most pasta dishes – no cream sauce, but you don’t even miss it. If watching calories, cut the amount of pasta in half, it’s still wonderful. Love this with Kirkland’s mild Italian Sausage from Costco. Along with the broccoli, add chopped red and yellow peppers for additional color, flavor, and nutrition.

    • — Kathryn on February 2, 2021
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  • Outstanding! One of my husband’s favourites. We make the full recipe and freeze half, as there’s just two of us. Leftovers warm beautifully by adding a bit of chicken stock. We often tweak recipes to our taste; however, this one we make as written and have made it several times over. Absolutely delicious!

    • — Karen Aldrich on February 1, 2021
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  • Perfect quick and easy dinner for a family of 5 on the go! Delicious!

    • — Amy on January 31, 2021
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  • This is a delicious recipe ! I’ve made it several times this winter. I had always wanted to try orecchiette in a recipe and loved it. My go to for bulk sausage is RB Rice. None better. Thanks for a new favorite.

    • — Julie F. on January 30, 2021
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  • This is our go-to weeknight meal, so quick, easy and yet still flavorful. The only change is that we make this with Italian ground turkey to keep it on the lighter side. My husband is so picky with recipes I try from different websites, they never seem to have enough flavor. I am so thankful we found your recipes, every single recipe we try is a hit. Thank you for helping me discover great food!

    • — Lindsey B. on January 30, 2021
    • Reply
  • I like this recipe. I subbed out the pasta for chickpea pasta because that’s all I had on hand at the time. This recipe makes it easy to eat broccoli because of the cheese and italian sausage. Yummy.

    • — Rose on January 30, 2021
    • Reply
    • I wish I knew what “Chickpea pasta” was, it sounds YUM, Rose!!

      • — Gigi B on February 21, 2021
      • Reply
      • The brand we use is called Banza and it is quite good. I get it at Costco.

        • — Julia on March 3, 2021
        • Reply
  • I have added this pasta dish to my favorite go to recipes. Not only kid friendly but my husband likes it too! I love cooking with orecchiette. My first time years ago was a dish with meaty chicken thighs in a red sauce with this pasta. Lost the recipe…. Would love more recipes using orecchiette!

    • — Twila on January 30, 2021
    • Reply
  • This is simply delicate. The orecchiette is perfect because it’s like a mini swimming pool of deliciousness. We love hot sausage. This recipe of off the charts as observed by the many reviewers.

    • — Judy Schell on January 30, 2021
    • Reply
  • This is a perfect weeknight meal! It’s quick, easy, and absolutely delicious! Just add salad and bread and dinner is done. Also, clean up is pretty quick.

    • — Melissa on January 30, 2021
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  • I have made this so many times, it’s memorized. So easy to put together. Plus you can add other veggies as well.

    • — JLee on January 29, 2021
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  • I love how flavorful this dish is! The pasta soaks up all of the yummy sauce and is amazing. So so good! Your recipes are the only ones I trust “blindly”. I know they are going to taste good, so I don’t mind testing them out on company even if I’ve never made it before. Thank you!

    • — Ashley on January 29, 2021
    • Reply
    • Love this recipe! Didn’t have broccoli so I used kale. It would be good with spinach too. Making it with broccoli tonight! My husband thought it was a restaurant quality dinner!

      • — Jean Pierce on February 22, 2021
      • Reply

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