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Katie's Cucina

Orecchiette with Italian Sausage, Broccoli and crunchy breadcrumbs

I recently saw this recipe on one of the many cooking blogs I follow on a daily basis; Christine’s Cuisine. She has some amazing recipes on her blog! If you haven’t visited her blog before you should—you won’t be disappointed!!! I’m not going to lie. I was a little skeptical about this dish at first–the fact that the pasta had no sauce I knew was not going to bode well with my husband; however, I wanted to give it a try. The night I made this dish my brother and dad joined us for dinner too, so I figured all of the men would either hate it or love it. To my satisfaction they all LOVED it! I honestly feel that the bread crumbs make this dish. Don’t substitute them–make the ones that the recipe calls for, and be liberal about them–don’t skimp! They are delicious and are the perfect finish to this dish! I also want to note that if you can’t find the orecchiette in your local grocery store you can use a small shell pasta. I ended up finding the orecchiette at Whole Foods Market for $1.99 for whole wheat orecchiette at boot! My local grocery store wanted to charge me $6 for plain white orecchiette pasta! Whole Foods is definitely the way to go and best of all the guys never realized they were eating whole wheat pasta! 

Prep:  10 minutes
Total: 30 minutes


For the Breadcrumbs: 

  • 4 slices stale white bread, roughly chopped
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
 For the Pasta Dish: 
  • 2 stalks of broccoli (or broccoli rabe), trimmed and cut into pieces
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil,
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 sweet Italian sausages, casings removed
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups orecchiette pasta
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • parmesan cheese, for serving


1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine bread with salt, pepper, and dried herbs. Pulse briefly until bread breaks down into roughly 1/4-inch chunks.
2. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet. Add breadcrumbs and toss until well coated. Saute until golden brown and crispy, being careful not to let the smaller pieces burn. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil.  Cook the broccoli (2-3 minutes) or broccoli (5-7 minutes) in the boiling water.  Remove with a slotted spoon when done and cook the pasta according to the package directions.
4. Meanwhile, heat the 1 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and cook until it begins to sizzle, about a minute; add the sausage and red pepper flakes and continue cooking until nicely browned, 5 to 7 minutes.
5. Transfer the broccoli to the skillet. Cook over medium-high heat, adding some of the pasta water as needed to help soften the broccoli.
6. Remove the pasta when it is barely al dente, drain, reserving about a cup of the cooking water. (I just used the same large slotted spoon and transferred the pasta directly from the pot to the large skillet with the sausage & broccoli. That way I didn’t have to add to much water to the skillet).
7. Add the pasta to the skillet with the broccoli and sausage and a couple of tablespoons of the reserved cooking water as needed; toss with until well combined.  Season with salt and pepper. 
8. Plate the pasta then top with breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese.

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3 Responses to “Orecchiette with Italian Sausage, Broccoli and crunchy breadcrumbs”

  1. Christine posted on July 18, 2010 at 2:34 pm (#)

    You are right about the breadcrumbs! Glad you loved the dish. I wish we had a Whole Foods around here! I've been to them when I've traveled and they are amazing.

  2. Paige posted on July 24, 2010 at 10:26 pm (#)

    Hey girl! I finally got a chance to look at your blog…very impressive!!! Keep up the good work…and I'm definitely going to make this Orecchiette with Italian sausage, broccoli and bread crumbs it sounds amazing!
    Paige 🙂

  3. Katie posted on July 26, 2010 at 12:21 pm (#)

    Christine–Whole Foods can be so dangerous. When I visit I make sure I stay on track and try not to buy too many off the wall products I don't need!

    Paige–thanks for stopping by! You won't be disappointed by this dish! It was awesome!!!

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