Orecchiette has one big thing going for it that other pastas do not: its cup shape makes it the perfect vehicle to hold special pasta sauces. The creamy tomato sausage pasta sauce featured in this recipe is orecchiette worthy!
Decadent? Yes. Have salad tomorrow!
Orecchiette Sausage Pasta
Don’t you hate it when you twirl an enormous mound of spaghetti on your fork, only to find that you’ve just got pasta and no toppings??
Even more annoying is when you bring it up to your mouth and loose strands slap around your mouth, causing pasta sauce to splatter all over your face – and your white top.
Such are the challenges of our pasta lovin’ life.
Thankfully, the Italians came up with a solution – little cup shaped pastas called “orecchiette” which act as little scoops to hold pasta sauce. How clever is that?!
Truth be told, I do not know if orecchiette pasta was invented to solve the pasta-slapping/sauce splattering/toppingless spaghetti problem.
I just know that it’s wildly practical – and we should all use it more often!!
Today, I’m sharing a flavour loaded, decadent creamy tomato sausage pasta sauce that I deem to be orecchiette worthy. The little bits of sausage nestled in those little cups, blanketed in that creamy sauce….ugh! It’s so good it should be illegal!
What you need for Orecchiette Sausage Pasta
Here’s what you need:
- Italian sausages – the better the sausage, the better the sauce! Here in Australia, Italian sausages only come in link form (as pictured above), but squeezing the meat out is cinch to do. In fact, anyone with a lifetime of cooking sausages knows full well the meat wants to come out of the casings!
- Kale – to break up the richness of the sauce. Spinach works great here too;
- Tomato Passata or puree – this thickens the sauce as well as providing lovely tomato flavour to cut through the richness of the cream and sausage. Tomato Passata, called tomato puree in the US, is just pure, plain tomato that’s pureed and strained – nowadays found in everyday supermarkets in Australia. But don’t fret if you can’t find it – crushed tomato or even tomato paste can be used in a cinch (quantities in recipe);
- Parmesan – for a flavour boost!
- Cream and milk – cream provides the richness, milk thins out the sauce more whilst still keeping the sauce that lovely pink colour!
- Garlic – because very few of my recipes don’t have garlic;
- Italian herbs – staying on theme with the sausages. Just use a store bought premix. Not the end of the world if you don’t use dried herbs in this, we get loads of flavour from the sausages; and
- Red pepper flakes (chilli flakes) – for a hint of warmth. Optional!
How to make Orecchiette Sausage Pasta
Nothing unique about the making part! The sausage pasta sauce comes together in the same time the pasta takes to cook, making this a great quick dinner recipe.
KEY TIP: Avoid the cheap sausages that are a uniform pink colour – they are loaded with fillers. Look for sausages with specks of meat and white fat, as pictured above.
On the side
I’d love to be able to tell you that this is a complete meal…but it’s a wee bit light on the greens! So add a fresh salad on the side to round it out – here are a few suggestions:
You know something? I just realised that I forgot to mention another very important characteristic of orecchiette pasta:
YOU CAN EAT IT WITH A SPOON
Which means it falls into a very important category of food I call Couch Food, being food you can eat with a spoon without taking your eyes off the TV.
Or trashy novel. Or a rag-mag.
Just something that requires minimal brainpower so you can concentrate on really savouring Every. Single. Bite! – Nagi x
PS I suppose one could eat this while reading something a little more intellectual, but I just think my brain would implode with all that delicious going on in my mouth as well as having to think while reading? My brain just doesn’t have the bandwidth for that.
Watch how to make it
Orecchiette Sausage Pasta in Creamy Tomato Sauce
- 400g / 14oz orecchiette pasta (or other pasta)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves , minced
- 500g / 1lb Italian pork sausages , meat squeezed out of their casings (see video, Note 1)
- 1/4 cup white wine , anything not too sweet (sub water)
- 1 cup tomato passata (called “tomato puree” in US, Note 2)
- 3/4 cup cream , heavy/thickened
- 3/4 cup milk (any fat %)
- 1/3 cup parmesan , finely grated
- 1 tsp Italian herbs (Note 3)
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (chilli flakes)
- 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
- 3 cups (packed) kale leaves , torn into bite size pieces (or baby spinach, swiss chard, Tuscan kale etc)
- Parmesan , for serving
Bring a large pot of water to the boil and cook pasta according to packet directions MINUS 1 minute. Just before draining, scoop out 1 cup of pasta cooking water and set aside. (Note 4)
Heat oil in a very large skillet over high heat. Add garlic and cook for 15 seconds.
Add sausage meat and cook, breaking it up as you go, until there are some little golden bits – about 4 minutes.
Add wine and cook, scraping the bottom of the skillet to remove the golden bits, and allow wine to evaporate – the winey smell will disappear.
Add remaining ingredients except kale. Stir well, bring to simmer then turn stove down to low and simmer gently for 2 minutes to bring all the flavours together.
Add pasta and kale. Toss well for 1 minute to coat pasta well with the sauce – it will thicken. If the sauce gets too thick, use the reserved pasta cooking water to loosen it up (Note 4).
Serve immediately, garnished with freshly grated parmesan
If using link sausages (in Australia, we only get Italian sausage meat in sausage form), squeeze the meat from the casings (it’s easy, demo in video).
2. Tomato passata – pureed, strained pure tomatoes, sometimes labelled Tomato Puree in the US (here’s a photo of Mutti Tomato Passata sold at Walmart). Readily available in Australian supermarkets nowadays, alongside pasta sauces. If you can’t find it, use crushed canned tomatoes and simmer rapidly for 5 minutes to reduce it more.
3. Italian Herbs – just use a store bought pre mix. Otherwise, make up your own with equal amounts of thyme, basil, oregano, parsley and a pinch of rosemary.
4. Pasta cooking water – the starch in the water thickens the sauce when tossed with pasta. So if the sauce needs thinning, best to use the pasta cooking water instead of just normal water. Great traditional Italian pasta cooking technique to use in every pasta recipe!
5. Nutrition per serving. Never said it was diet. I said it was DELICIOUS! Shave off 80 calories by using light cream or half and half instead of full fat cream (sauce will still be nice and thick from the tomato).
More creamy pasta recipes
For all those days when nothing but a creamy pasta will do….
Life of Dozer
Tip run today – boot was full of rubbish. (Yes Dozer, I’m referring to YOU! )