An easy pasta recipe with broccoli, spicy sausage, and a simple cream sauce.
- 1/2 pound spicy Italian sausage
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 pound orecchiette pasta
- 1 head broccoli, cut into florets
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- salt and pepper to taste
- Set a large pot of water on the stove, bring to a boil, and add salt to taste.
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage and cook, breaking up any chunks with a wooden spoon or sturdy spatula, for 7-10 minutes or until cooked through and lightly browned. Add minced garlic when sausage is mostly cooked. If the sausage is especially oily, discard some of the extra fat.
- While the sausage browns, cook the orecchiette in very salty water. When the pasta is 2-3 minutes away from being al dente, add the broccoli florets to the water to cook.
- Stir red pepper flakes and heavy cream into the sausage. Bring to a low simmer while the pasta finishes cooking.
- Use a slotted spoon or spider/skimmer ladle to lift cooked pasta and broccoli out of the boiling water and add it to the skillet with your sauce mixture, letting a bit of the starchy pasta water drip into the sauce as you go.
- Add parmesan cheese and stir until cheese has melted and cream has returned to a simmer, then turn off the heat and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.
For great pasta, cook the pasta in a separate pot while you build the sauce in the skillet. It can take some practice to successfully balance both pots at a time! We like to use a spider spoon to transfer the pasta to the sauce skillet because it pulls some of the starchy pasta water in with it, which helps emulsify the sauce and keep it nice and creamy. If you’d rather use just one pot, cook the pasta and broccoli, then drain it, set it aside, and return the pot to the stove to build your sauce. If you do this, just make sure to reserve a bit of pasta water to help the sauce come together!
Use quality parmesan cheese here – pre-shredded cheese is often treated with preservatives that prevent it from melting smoothly into a sauce. I like to buy a nice block of parmesan and shred it myself with a microplane or cheese grater.
Add any veggies you like to this pasta or swap the sausage out for chicken to switch it up!
Use 1/4 cup stock, milk, or pasta water in place of 1/4 cup of the cream to lighten this recipe up a little.
Keywords: dinner, weeknight, pasta