The Missing Ingredient

A Food Blog

Orecchiette with Fennel, Sausage and Tomatoes August 8, 2008

Filed under: Italian,Pasta,Quick dinners,Uncategorized — xigumdrops @ 6:04 pm
Tags: , , , ,


Ok, so obviously I am missing a few of the ingredients in the title but I know what I am doing!  I have made this recipe a few times before and am OK with omitting the fennel.  Although, I much prefer this recipe with Orecchiette, whole-wheat spirals were all I had.  I also added more wine (woops!) and cornstarch to thicken the sauce a bit.

Kosher salt

3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 Lb. sweet Italian sausage, casings removed (I used bulk sausage and didn’t have to deal with annoying casings)

1 large fennel bulb (about 1 1/14 Lb. quartered, cored, and finely chopped) (replaced with 1/2 cup diced red onion)

3/4 cup dry white wine (1 cup)

1 1/2 tsp. cornstarch

2 cups fresh (or canned) seeded diced tomatoes, drained if using canned (fresh grape tomatoes cut in half)

12 basil leaves, torn into small pieces

1/8 to 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (1/2 tsp.)

Freshly ground black pepper

3/4 lb. dried oreccheitte (wheat

1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano (freshly grated 3 cheese Italian blend from cheese section)


1.  Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil.

2.  Heat 1 Tbs. of the oil in a 10-inch straight-sided saute pan over medium-high heat until shimmering hot.  (I omitted the oil to cook the sausage; there is already enough grease).  Add the sausage and cook, break it up with a spoon, until browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes (probably more like 10 who wants raw pork sausage?).  Transfer the sausage to a paper-towel-lined plate and pour off and discard any fat left in the pan.

3.  Set the pan over medium heat and add the remaining 1 1/2 Tbs. oil, the fennel (onion), and 1 tsp. salt.  Cook, stirring, until the fennel (onion) softens and browns lightly, about 6 minutes (2-3 minutes for the onion).  Raise the heat to high, add the wine (and cornstarch), and cook, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen any browned bits, until almost evaporated, 1 to 2 minutes (nothing is evaporating in my version; a small amount of sauce will thicken).

3.  Add the sausage, tomatoes, half of the basil, the red pepper flakes, and 1/2 tsp. each salt and pepper.  Lower the heat to medium, and cook stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes break down, 6 to 10 minutes (do not over cook or tomatoes will be gross).

4. Meanwhile, cook the orecchiette (spirals) in the boiling water, about 11 minutes.  Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water and drain well.  Return the pasta to the pot, add the sauce, and cook over medium-high heat so the sauce and the pasta meld.  If the pasta seems dry, add enough cooking-water to moisten it to your liking.  I normally add 1/4 cup.  Stir in half of the pecorino, season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve sprinkled with the remaining pecorino and basil.


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