Orecchiette with Sausage and Spinach
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.
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.
For other pesto dishes check out my Creamy Pesto Chicken Pasta, this Pesto Prosciutto Dutch Baby, or this Pull Apart Cheesy Pesto Bread with Salami. Enjoy!
Subscribe to my Newsletter, follow me on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube for all my latest recipes and videos.
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).
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
Great recipe! I used Italian chicken sausage instead of pork sausage, and other than salting the pasta water a bit, I omitted adding any other salt to the dish. Yes, I went the easy route and used a jar of Classico basil pesto (8.1 ounces), and since I can rarely find a 16-ounce package of orecchiette in my local grocery store, I used mini bow-tie pasta (farfalle) instead. I also amped up the crushed red pepper a bit using close to a teaspoon instead of the eighth specified in the recipe. And one final note, instead of serving lemon slices on the side, I juiced and stirred half a lemon directly into the dish right before serving. Big hit in my household. Thanks for sharing!
Awesome, so glad the family enjoyed this one Jason!
How would you reheat?
I would just stick it in the microwave and reheat. Hope you enjoy it!
Could leftovers be frozen?
Definitely you can freeze this Pam.
Loved this recipe! It was a huge hit. Added sautéed mushrooms. Will add some toasted breadcrumbs next time.
I am so glad you enjoyed it! Great thinking on the mushrooms!
Sounds delicious Gregg!
Simple, rustic and full of flavor! Thank you for sharing this awesome recipe that will now join our meal rotation…this one just kicked one out!!!
Thank you for saying all that! I hope you enjoy it!
Another great recipe Kevin. When the compliments don’t stop you know it’s a hit. I might put more red pepper flakes in next time but that’s a personal taste. Thanks Kevin
So glad you enjoyed this one David. Cheers!
Recipe was nice and easy to make but to be honest it was too salty and I never added salt. My guess is the salt I put in my pasta to cook? Plus being that it’s winter and no fresh basil I used pesto in a jar? Any thoughts Kevin?
Well my first thoughts went right to the sausage meat and store bought pesto for the too salty aspect. Different brands often times have so much salt added. Sorry that was your experience Skip!
This recipe was a hit! Thank you
So happy you enjoyed this Nikki. Thanks for taking the time to come back and let me know.
Hi: Do you think this would work well with kale instead of spinach? I love the recipe but happen to have kale in the house.
I sure don’t see why not. Let me know how it turns out!
I am so impressed with all of Kevin’s meals! Hearty, healthy, kid friendly recipes makes his dishes winners with my family time and time again.
Thanks so much for stopping by and taking the time to write this Daniela! You made my day! 🙂
Daniela from SLO?
I make a similar recipe, but never thought of adding pesto. I LOVE that twist! And I have so much basil in my garden, I’m always looking for ways to use it. Thanks for this recipe
Thanks Karyl, it is just fantastic, especially with fresh, homemade pesto! 🙂