A simple, rustic pasta combined with a spicy sausage and pesto makes for a quick and easy mid-week dinner. What’s even better is this Orecchiette with Sausage and Spinach sneaks in a vegetable like spinach to round out a complete meal. Your kids won’t even know it’s in there.
So did everyone (at least here in the States) have a good Memorial Day weekend? I worked half a day Saturday and spent the other half getting baked without knowing it at a park with overcast skies, but Sunday we took the boys up to the mountains and hiked Mt Laguna.
It’s always a recharge for me to see them running and jumping, casing after critters they will never catch and feeling blessed. Later that afternoon we met a friend for sushi, relaxed at the house and were basically couch potatoes half of the day yesterday closing out about 6 DVR’d shows that were season finales. Can’t wait for Game of Thrones to start. How about you?
So back to this Orecchiette with Sausage and Spinach.
Orecchiette are small, ear-like looking pasta shapes that are perfect to hold any sauce. In this dish I deglaze the browned sausage with some white wine and add freshly made pesto to create a wonderful sauce to coat each pasta piece.
This is one of those quick mid-week meals that’s perfect because it comes together in under 30 minutes and can all be made in the same pan.
I like to use fresh spinach in this one, but feel free to use mushrooms or chard. While I like the heat from hot Italian sausage, you can alter that to meet your own taste needs by using a mild sausage and omit the added chili pepper flakes.
When boiling the pasta be sure to save about a cup of the cooking water. The starches from the pasta help emulsify your sauce later.
Orecchiette with Sausage and Spinach
- 1 lb Orecchiette pasta
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 lb Italian sausage
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 cup pesto
- 3/4 cup pasta cooking liquid
- 1 lb fresh spinach
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
- parsley to garnish (optional)
- lemon slices (optional)
- In a large stock pot bring 4 quarts of water to boil, add the salt and stir. Add pasta, stir and cook for 9-10 minutes. Scoop out about cup cooking liquid and reserve. Drain pasta (do not rinse) and set aside.
- In same large stock pot over medium high heat add the olive oil. Add the sausage meat, salt and red pepper flakes (optional) and break up any large lumps (keep it slightly chunky) and brown on all sides.
- Add the wine to deglaze the pan, scraping up the browned bits on bottom of pan. Allow to cook and reduce by half. Add the pesto and cooking liquid and stir. Continue to cook over medium heat and add the fresh spinach. Stir to coat and simmer on low for 5 minutes.
- Add the cooked pasta and stir to combine. Serve immediately with fresh parmesan cheese and parsley and fresh lemon (optional).